Millets are considered playing a central role both on the nutritional and on cultural side for indigenous communities. However, millets are facing a decrease in their diffusion, due to the spreading of commercial crops cultivations. They are also linked on shifting cultivation, a traditional indigenous agricultural practice that has been recognized as highly relevant for ecological and biodiversity preservation.
Recognising the meaning of millets for indigenous communities and the cultural and alimentary risks related to their decline, the Indigenous Partnership has decided to support the creation of an Indigenous Millet Network. The Network was born in the village of Nongtraw in February 2011, when the community joined a Participatory Video Training organised by the Indigenous Partnership, supported by Insightshare, UK. The community members of Nongtraw decided to make a short video documenting the traditional practice of millet cultivation and its importance to them. The participatory video become an important instrument for their millet campaign. Community members then started promoting millet cultivation and today over 13 out of the 46 villages in the Khatar Shnong valley have returned to growing krai.
The Millet Network has been expanding in several districts of Meghalaya and the North East India, reviving and promoting millets as climate-smart, nutritive food. The network has grown from 1 community in East Khasi hills in 2010 and a hand full of partners in 2012 to 25 communities in Garo hills, 1 in West Khasi hills, 6 in East Khasi hills and 3 partners in Nagaland. In 2013, during the Mei Ram-ew Festival, a special workshop on millet was held by NESFAS.
A partnership has been established with the Karen Indigenous communities from the Northern Thailand that traditionally cultivate millet using shifting cultivation.
The Network is currently engaged to revive millet cultivation and to encourage its consumption by sensitizing the people about its nutritive values through various programs and food festivals.
To learn more… The power of participatory video documentation – A grassroot perpective (NESFAS, Article by Pius Ranee) NUS Community List of involved organisations
SOURCES: The Christensen Fund Grant (2014-2015) Interim Report NESFAS Reports 2013- 2014 Bhag Mal and Stefano Padulosi, best practices, methods and tools in minor millets value chains and uptaking processes, 2014.Bala Ravi, Neglected millet that save the poor from stavatation, 2012)