Farmers from Ri Bhoi visit Mulum seed bank

Jowai, Jan 20:
A one-day exposure visit of 13 farmers from Ri Bhoi and the Social Service Centre, Shillong, was conducted yesterday at Mulum under Laskein block in West Jaintia Hills.

The Ri Bhoi farmers’ visit to Mulum village was an Inter-District Farmer’s exposure programme organised by Social Service Centre, Archbishop’s House, Shillong, in collaboration with Society For Urban and Rural Empowerment (SURE) and North East Slow Food and Agrobiodiversity Society (NESFAS) under the project ‘No one shall be left behind: Biodiversity for food, Nutrition and Energy Security funded by Rural Electrification Corporation Foundation (REC)’.

The farmers were given an exposure of Iaraplang Community Seed Bank which is also engaged in preserving and promoting local varieties of indigenous seeds. The other program was an exchange of seeds between the PGS group from Ri Bhoi district and farmers from Mulum. A cooking demonstration of indigenous food was prepared by both groups in which the Iaraplang PGS of Mulum cooked a dish name Mahek leaf with yam and the group from Ri Bhoi prepared a dish of Taro stem with dry fish.

Exchange of best practice of vegetables cultivation and sharing of success stories by the PGS of Mulum and farmers of Ri Bhoi was also organised as part of the program.
The Iaraplang Community Seed Bank was established on March 13, 2013, supported by the Meghalaya Basin Development Agency with 10 members from different self-help groups. The objective of the seed bank is to promote, manage and encourage sustainable use of local varieties of seeds for food security and to improve livelihoods of farmers. The main function of the seed bank is to collect, enhance and multiply seeds of local varieties.

After the end of the MBDA project in 2018, the groups disintegrated and seeds bank was also about to collapse. On that same year with the coming of the NESFAS project in collaboration with SURE a Participatory Guarantee System known as Iaraplang local group was formed on December 28, 2018, with seven members.

A pledge to avoid using chemical fertilisers and pesticides was taken by the members on December 30, 2018. The group then started to grow vegetables in their respective kitchen gardens. Initially, they sold their produce in the Farmers’ Market organised in Jowai. On July 27, 2019, the seed bank was revived by the Participatory Guarantee System under the name Iaraplang Community Seed Bank that was inaugurated in September, 2019.