SHILLONG: To promote the sale of locally produced and chemical free products, Shaining Nongrum, headman of Laitsohpliah community (East Khasi Hills), inaugurated a farmers’ store of the community here on Tuesday.
The store is an initiative of the ‘Participatory Guarantee System’ (PGS) — farmers’ groups of Laitsohpliah in association with the ‘North East Slow Food and Agrobiodiversity Society’ (NESFAS). It aims to encourage farmers to increase the production of chemical-free products, provide a platform for marketing of traditional food and local authentic products directly sourced from farmers.
Nongrum said, “The Farmers’ Store aims to support small producers with a fair price for their produce, as well as to enhance forward linkages for traditional food and local authentic products.” He added, “It will help educate the consumers about the origins of products, and facilitate appreciation of uniquely grown, designed or handmade products.”
An exchange visit among members of other communities was also held on the same day. School students, teachers and PGS members from Cham Cham (East Jaintia Hills) (EJH), Musiaw (West Jaintia Hills) (WJH), Iooksi (WJH), Mupyut (WJH) Skhenpyrsit (WJH) Samanong (WJH), Mulum (WJH), Mukhap (WJH), Pynthor (WJH), Ksehrynchang (WJH), Langshonthiang (West Khasi Hills) and Nongwah (East Khasi Hills) were also present at the community.
The school students and teachers visited the school garden at the Laitsohpliah Upper Secondary school. Theilinda Bareh, a teacher of the Samanong LP School, said, “Our community including the school authority is facing problems in maintaining the gardens due to heavy rains. However. we have put in a lot of effort to carry out such activities.”
Brinsing Nongrum, a teacher at Iooksi Government LP School, said, “It is through the encouragement and persistent programme by the Society for Urban and Rural Empowerment (SURE) that we also began the school garden recently. We have also started using the vegetables in our mid-day meal programme.”
The communities from East and West Jaintia Hills that visited Laitsohpliah are NESFAS’ partner communities who work under SURE.
Pius Ranee, NESFAS senior associate, said, “Laitsohpliah is one of our oldest partners. It has always been receptive to many of our programmes. We did not come here just to observe the school gardens, but to also reflect and learn, and come up with ideas on how to make our own school gardens a better place.” He added, “At NESFAS, we are very concerned about the sustainability and transfer of local knowledge.”
Recently, the Directorate of Education, Government of Meghalaya had announced to make ‘school garden’ a compulsory programme among the educational institutions.