Dimapur, Dec. 4 (EMN): The North East Network (NEN) organised a workshop on Climate Change, and millet on December 4 at the JMC at Lerie in Kohima.
The workshop brought together 56 participants comprising millet farmers from Nagaland, Meghalaya, Manipur and Kalimpong (West Bengal).
The participants included NGO representatives namely SURE, SSC, NESFAS from Meghalaya, IRMA from Manipur, KKKS from Kalimpong; NEIDA, KMH, NEN from Nagaland. This was stated in a press release issued by Wekoweu Tsuhah, director of NEN Nagaland.
Supported by the Millet Network of India (MINI), the one-day workshop aimed at understanding the current status of millet cultivation and consumption in the NE region and to identify the key challenges and opportunities in millet based bio-diverse food and farming systems, it was informed. It also aimed at facilitating farmer-to-farmer exchange learning on innovative practices and discuss the way forward for recognition of millet farmers’ knowledge and to bring millets into the agricultural policies of the state.
Cultivated and consumed in over 50 countries, Millets are central to the cultural ethos of indigenous communities in NE region and other parts of India, an update from NEN stated on Wednesday.
Foxtail millets, sorghum, finger millet, small millet, proso millet and pearl millet are some of the millet varieties that is traditionally cultivated and consumed as grains, snack and drinks in different parts of the NE region, the updated added.
In her keynote address, Seno Tsuhah, NEN steering committee member, had highlighted on the effects of climate change and how it has impacted small farming communities the most. She encouraged the participants to relook at their communities’ climate change adaptation and mitigation mechanisms.
“Millets are highly nutritious and climate resilient crops, and they answer many global challenges like food insecurity and malnutrition,” Tsuhah stated. She, however, pointed that owing to numerous factors such as the feminisation of agriculture, shrinking common lands, increased corporate control of agriculture, lack of policy support to millet based bio-diverse agriculture, millets have been marginalised to a great extent.
She pointed that women farmers play a central role in the conservation of millets as they have the knowledge and skills surrounding millets. She added that their role and contribution needed acknowledgement by the government and the society at large.
During the session on ‘Current status and concerns – Voices from the field,’ women millet farmers from Nagaland, Manipur and Meghalaya shared on the various challenges in millet production and consumption. Some of the challenges included lack of policy support for millet farmers, lack of technological support, wildlife and bird attacks on millet fields, shrinking jhum lands and increased cash crop plantations, shortage of agricultural labour, lack of information on marketing avenues.
During the session on ‘Opportunities and innovations,’ millet farmers and organisation representatives shared innovative practices and coping mechanisms to deal with challenges in millet farming.
The workshop concluded with a discussion on way forward. The recommendations are as follows:
• Recognise millets as our heritage crops, highly nutritious and climate resilient. They ensure multiple securities – food, nutrition, fodder, ecological and livelihoods.
• Government must offer priority support to millet based biodiverse farming practised by small and marginal farmers, to enhance millet production.
• Government should help women farmer collectives to set up women-friendly, affordable dehusking and processing units to reduce drudgery.
• Trainings on post harvest technology and value addition on millets should be given importance.
• Facilitate millet farmers access to markets
• Compensation for millets and other traditional crops destroyed by wildlife should be given.
• Mass awareness amongst the millet farming communities as well as consumers should be given importance.
First published by Eastern Mirror, Nagaland on 4 Dec. 2019