St. Edmund’s College students learn practices of Indigenous Food Systems facilitated by NESFAS

Shillong, May 12: The NESFAS facilitated an exposure visit on May 12, 2022 for the 2nd Semester students of Bachelor of Social Work, St Edmund’s College at Khweng, Ri-Bhoi. The programme saw the participation of 36 students.

The main objective of this exposure visit is to collaborate with various NGOs for their study tour and rural camps as part of their curriculum and also to understand the works done by such organisations.

The college has selected NESFAS to be one of its partners in this regard. In the programme, the students learn the best practices of Indigenous Food Systems (IFS), traditional knowledge systems, and witness inspirational stories from the ground.

Khweng community also has the highest agrobiodiversity with over 319 food plants as per the mapping exercise conducted by NESFAS. The program kicked off with a presentation from Khrawborlang Wahlang, Adviser and Innovation, NESFAS, where he shared the journey of NESFAS and its role in promoting the IFS.

He also stated that traditional farming and food systems benefit both indigenous farmers and the environment. He also emphasized that NESFAS is working on strengthening women as custodians of biodiversity. He also stressed on the importance of IFS and community seed banks.

Mrs. Redian Syiem, ALC member from Khweng, recalls her experience with NESFAS at St. Edmunds College, Shillong where one of the first Mei-Ramew Food Festival took place.

She went on to further talk about the Agroecology Learning Circle (ALC) members in Khweng, where they meet and discuss day-to-day activities and challenges on farming and overcome them by working together. She also explains that Khweng has been embracing intergenerational knowledge exchange.

Mrs. Pliemon Barim, ALC member, Khweng, takes charge to talk about the wild food plants displayed in the community hall like jajew maw, kynbat niangming, lashing, jajew ding, jatira and jamyrdoh among the popular ones.

The program was then followed by an Agrobiodiversity (ABD) Walk. The ABD walks took place at the nearby food production systems of the village. In this session, local knowledge holders namely Mrs. Rosilian Khymdeit, Mrs. Rekona Nongsiej and Mrs. Redian Syiem led three groups of students and introduced them to the various food plants and medicinal plants that are available in those food production systems. Their knowledge on the seasonality and benefits of the plants and the herbs are also shared with the young students.

“I enjoyed having the students over, as they have been able to garner information about our lifestyle and traditional farming, ” said Kong Pliemon Barim.

Camilia Wahlang, BSW student, St. Edmund’s College, Shillong, expressed, “Through this program we learned more about our local food systems and wild edible plants which are highly nutritious. I am glad to have tried roselle juice for the first time. Also, I would like to observe such awareness programs for the urban population, especially about wild food plants”.

“The overall experience was amazing, where the community members are very hardworking and polite. The work that they do is extremely good. I hope the students will take back what they have learned today and go back and create a sense of awareness about IFS among their peers” expressed Ms. Audrey D Dohling, HOD, Social Work Dept., St. Edmund’s College, Shillong.





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