20 May, 2019Shillong, Meghalaya
Meghalaya welcomed indigenous youth from around the world for The Indigenous Partnership (TIP) Youth Fellowship Programme 2019. The North-East Slow Food and Agrobiodiversity Society (NESFAS), their local partner, who is hosting the first leg of the programme organised an introductory gathering with its team.
The four Fellows who are part of the 2019 Fellowship are Nofri Yani from Indonesia, belonging to the Minangkabau community; Edgar Osvaldo from Mexico, belonging to the Mayan community; Merrysha Nongrum and Chenxiang R Marak from India, belonging to Garo and Khasi tribes respectively.The Fellows would attend several programmes that will be hosted by NESFAS across Meghalaya till the 17th of June.
Since 2012 NESFAS has worked with its communities to create a large basin of information resource on agrobiodiversity. Over the span of a month, the Fellows and other participants will be a part of a number of workshops and field trips that will expose them to the rich indigenous bounty of the North-East, that NESFAS is a guardian to. The month long field stay would aid in more intense interaction with the communities and ensure better understanding of Meghalaya’s indigenous knowledge and food systems.The initiative for the field work that is being held in Meghalaya is supported by the Rural Electrification Corporation Limited of India and the Government of Meghalaya. They would be trained by industry experts so they can execute the learning back home in their communities. The four Fellows will then proceed to Rome, Italy where they will continue with their programme for another month.
The Pilot Programme, 2017
The pilot programme aimed at creating a platform for exchange among young minds from indigenous communities and syncing them to world views and actions, while maintaining their identities. It prepared the Fellows through training, professional development, networking, management practices and policy options to use and safeguard agrobiodiversity issues, and to develop exposure. The Programme for 2019 intends to do the same, and more, while providing opportunities for a larger audience.
Word from the Chairman:
NESFAS’ Chairman Phrang Roy said, “The programme is important to build a cadre of young indigenous people who can uplift the well-being of their indigenous communities and work towards defending the indigenous food systems.”
The Fellows speak…
Nofri Yani said, “I want to teach children about the importance of farming. People are forgetting their traditions, so I want to take back home all that I will learn from the programme and implement them back home.”
“I am expecting to learn in depth about the environment and its impact on food systems. By being part of the 2019 TIP Fellowship Programme, I will get the chance to understand better the concept of agrobiodiversity and agroecology in relation to food and nutrition security,” said Chenxiang Marak.
Merrysha Nongrum, on the other hand, said, “Through this programme, I expect to learn, enhance skills and develop myself as a leader through action programmes in the communities to bring about social change.”
Dr. Kevin Gallagher, an expert in Agroecology and one of the founding authors in Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations on Farmer Field School, was also present at the inauguration. Gallagher is one of the mentors for the fellows for the first part of the Fellowship Programme in Meghalaya.
He said, “I want to connect the ambitions of farmers with the current economy. I look forward to visiting the communities and meet the farmers to know more about the work that they are doing in their respective fields.”
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