Meghalaya : ‘Community Seed-Bank’ Project Unveiled To Preserve 6000-Yr-Old Rice Species Of West Garo Hills

Posted in Featured, Meghalaya, Northeast


  • NET Web Desk

The North-East Slow Food and Agrobiodiversity Society (NESFAS) Project, a community-based seed bank project was recently unveiled at Sadolpara hamlet in West Garo Hills District; with the goal of preserving and promoting a rice strain, which dates back over 6000 years.

Inaugurated by the Minister of Health and Family Welfare – James Sangma; the rice strain was first promoted by International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) which collaborated with acclaimed filmmaker – Mira Nair to produce the documentary ‘Still, the Children are Here‘ in 2003, which reflects the hamlet’s long-standing rice-cultivation culture.

However, no meaningful steps have been initiated by prior governments or public institutions to bring the rice strain to prominence since then.

“Our culture is so inextricably linked with our food. If we lose this, we will begin to lose our culture, and we will be without an identity tomorrow. Such rice species, which date back over 6000 years, can only be found in a small Chinese village. It is everyone’s obligation to ensure the survival of these species.” – Sangma observed.

He urged the community to take up management and operationalization of the seed banks; and support the concerned initiative which aims to conserve endangered seed varieties as well as traditional knowledge.

Out of the seventeen traditional rice species, seven have already become extinct. Efforts are underway to resuscitate lost varieties from adjacent communities, as well as to discover and preserve any new variations that emerge.

“Climate change is causing dramatic changes to our biodiversity. In such circumstances, it is critical to identify and conserve such rice species, since they are climate-resistant,” Sangma explained.

“At the moment, the majority of our rice comes from states such as Andhra Pradesh, which comes at a great expense to our state. Because the Sadolpara species has lasted the test of time, it is both nutritionally and economically advantageous to Meghalaya,” he continued.

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