SHILLONG, Feb 28: When farmers elsewhere are depending on high yielding variety of seeds of different crops that they plan, there are those who still continue with the tradition and painstakingly select, collect and keep the indigenous seeds that they have inherited from their parents. It is also not every day that programmes to honour the tradition and the people who continue keeping the seeds of the past for posterity was organised in the region.
Joyfully Pamtiah is one farmer from Tyrchang village who was recognised at the Community Seed Fair organised by Society for Urban and Rural Empowerment (SURE) at Ladthalaboh Indoor Stadium recently.
Pamtiah, who brought 25 varieties of seeds to display on the occasion, was recognised as custodian farmer and the other farmers who were recognised were Poimon Langstang of Mukhap village. Moreover, the Mulum Community Seed Bank, which is a collective effort of member of Participatory Guarantee System, was also recognised for its effort.
More than hundred varieties of seeds were brought by 25 farmers coming from as many villages in the West and East Jaiñtia Hills district.
The programme is part of the ‘no one shall be left behind initiative’ project which is being implemented in collaboration with North East Slow Food and Agrobiodiversity Society (NESFAS) and the support by Regional Electrification Corporation.
The seed fairs also offers an opportunity for the farmers to exchange seeds and many also made some money by selling the extra seeds that they brought for display. Phomly Langstand from Mukhap hope that many seed fair is organised in the near future as this will help them sell their seeds as well as buy from their fellow farmers seeds they don’t have.
Rimaya Suchiang of Iaraplang PGS said that keeping their own seeds make them feel proud of being able to continue with the tradition they inherit from their forefathers but it also ensures that they are independent and don’t have to depend on the seeds supply from the government which is uncertain. It is also interesting to note that all the custodian farmers are female which demonstrates that female farmers are not only the keeper of the tradition but of the seeds too.
Speaking as the chief guest on the occasion, PK Boro, Project Director of DRDA West Jañtia Hills, said that he was overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of indigenous seeds displayed by the farmers. He encouraged the farmers to continue keeping their seeds and he believed that the seeds hold the key to their future.
He cited the example of Lakadong turmeric which is endemic to the region and is now a source of livelihood for many in the district.
Officials from the office of the District Agriculture Officer, the District Horticulture Officer and KVK were present during the meeting, who spoke to the farmers and inspected the seeds displayed.