SHILLONG, Feb 25: A three day Exhibition-Cum–Workshop on ‘‘Traditional Farming and Indigenous Foods of North East’ began at ICAR Research Complex for NEH, Umiam in the outskirts of Shillong on Saturday bringing together more than 1000 farmers from eight states of north east India and 100 scientists and experts.
The programme is being organized to provide a platform for interactions among the culinary artisans, traditional farmers, rural entrepreneurs, academicians, researchers and consumers to explore the possibility of entrepreneurship development in traditional food sector of the North east. The workshop will provide opportunity to exchange ideas and highlight the challenges that indigenous people face in practicing indigenous farming. Sharing thoughts and ideas will provide opportunity to blend traditional and modern scientific knowledge for developing sustainable technologies for hill agriculture.
Dr. Trilochan Mohapatra, Secretary DARE (Department of Agricultural Research Education), Government of India and Director General Indian Council of Agricultural Research and was the Chief Guest of the inaugural program. Addressing the gathering he said that ICAR had thought about the NE region well ahead of time and the ICAR Research Complex for NEH Region, Umiam was established four decades back. “The institute has produced wonderful technologies and various products for the benefit of the hill farmers. NE is the colourful canvas of the country and the diversity and the richness in tradition is unique and the specialty of the region,” he said while adding, “The region is bestowed with immense natural resource which needs to be tapped and utilized for the benefit of the people. Agriculture is the culture of the region and the Institute needs to focus of the prime task of bringing youth back to agriculture.”
He further added that focus should be laid in developing entrepreneurs. The region has tremendous opportunity for organic farming which needs to be effectively implemented. He also called upon the scientists, to validate the indigenous farming and food product for enhancing the livelihood security of the famers. He also urged scientists to deliberate on the issues related to the doubling farmer’s income. He remained that the first Prime Minister’s (Late Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru) had said, ‘‘everything else can wait but not agriculture’’ and emphasized that technology should be farmers friendly and production should be linked with market chain.
Dr S.V. Nagachan, Director, ICAR Research Complex for NEH Region, Umiam in his welcome address stated about the traditional agricultural practices evolved from the traditional knowledge systems are performing very well even today in conserving bio- resources/ natural resources and in sustaining hill ecosystem of North east.
“Therefore, recognition of traditional foods and associated knowledge on indigenous farming system is urgently needed,” he added.
During the inaugural ceremony, several awards were presented to the scientists based on their contributions in agriculture especially in hill ecosystems. Dr. M.S. Swaminathan award was conferred to Dr. B.P. Bhatt, Director, ICAR Research Complex, Eastern Region, Patna. The award carries a citation, memento and Rupees one lakh. Dr. D.N. Borthakur Award was conferred to Dr. M. Datta and his team comprising Drs. G.S. Yadav, Chandan Debnath , B. Das and A Halder for significant contribution in the farming system research. The award carries a citation, memento and Rupees Seventy Five Thousands. The institute also honoured the stalwarts served in North East India by conferring them life time achievement awards. All together six life time achievement awards were presented to the six stalwarts namely Dr. Arun Varma (Animal Science) Dr. K. R. Dhiman (Crop Improvement ), Er. M. D. Singh (Agricultural Engineering), Dr. Uttam C. Sharma (Natural Resource Management), Dr V. A. Parthasarathy (Horticulture) and Dr. R. K. Samanta (Social Science).
During the occasion, a souvenir, books and ICAR Meat and Fish products were also released by the chief Guest. Forty stalls from all north eastern states of India showed their traditional framing practices and indigenous food diversity.