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Terra Madre fest in Meghalaya planned

Shillong, Nov. 26: Meghalaya will host the second edition of the International Indigenous Terra Madre (IITM) in 2014 to give further impetus to sustainable food practices of the indigenous people.

Terra Madre is a network of food communities, each committed to producing quality food in a responsible and sustainable way.

The first IITM was held in Jokkmokk in northern Sweden last year.

Local food systems, traditional knowledge, diversity of indigenous languages and conservation of agro-biodiversity were the main themes of the Jokkmokk meet.

The event gathered indigenous food communities from around the world to exchange their expertise and raise a collective voice on how traditional knowledge and sustainable use of natural resources can contribute to developing good, clean and fair food systems.

There were around seven delegates from the Northeast who took part in the first IITM. Slow Food International founder Carlo Petrini made an official request to Phrang Roy, coordinator of the Rome-based Indigenous Partnership for Agro-biodiversity and Food Sovereignty, to explore the possibility of hosting the IITM in Meghalaya.

For the purpose of hosting the second IITM tentatively in April 2014, a sister organisation of the Indigenous Partnership and Slow Food International, known as the North East Slow Food and Agro-biodiversity Society (NESFAS), has been formed with Roy as the chairman and Carl Rangad as its director.

According to Roy, the Meghalaya government has promised to provide financial support for hosting the international meet.

He said the third Mei Ram-ew (Terra Madre) Festival at the sacred grove in Mawphlang village will be held on December 14 and 15 this year to celebrate indigenous food.

Around 24 local communities, including the Karen people of Thailand, Thangkhul Nagas, Kukis and Meiteis from Manipur, people from Dima Hasao district, Nilgiri hills, Nagaland and other places will participate in the Mawphlang festival.

Roy said the first day of the festival would allow communities to discuss common issues such as shifting cultivation and the revival of local food crops, and they will also share their own stories of agro-biodiversity through songs, folklore and traditional dances.

The second day will be a showcase of local agro-biodiversity from Meghalaya, Manipur, Assam, southern India and Thailand.

The exhibition will not only focus on food items, but also showcase the diversity of crops, their methods of cultivation and preparation and their importance to the food security and food sovereignty of indigenous peoples. Traditional cuisine will also be documented.

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