‘Local Food First: Towards Zero Hunger’

Chizami Declaration calls for empowerment of women farmers

DIMAPUR, OCTOBER 16 (MExN): Naga women farmers of Phek, Dimapur and Kohima districts along with members of the Self Employed Women Association (SEWA), Nagaland and the North East Network (NEN) have issued the Chizami Declaration, urging the government and local authorities (village councils in particular) to address challenges to indigenous food and farming systems in the context of climate change.  

The declaration issued on October 15 on the occasion of the International Day of Rural Women called for promotion of diversity-based ecological agriculture; Jhum agriculture; growing food crops to ensure food and nutritional security; and protection of the environment from adverse affects of chemical based farming.  

It also asked that landless women farmers be leased agriculture lands for organic farming, while ensuring effective implementation of the Nagaland State Organic Policy, and promoting diversified livelihoods.  

The declaration stressed on the need to promote indigenous food crops and seeds and to recognize traditional knowledge of women farmers in conservation of genetic diversity, while providing infrastructural support for women-led community seed banks. It also called for strengthening innovative indigenous practices of seed preservation, procurement and distribution; and use of climate resilient indigenous seeds.  

It added that credit and working capital should be enhanced for women farmers and their collectives; while infrastructure support; grievance redressal of frequent deduction from savings by banks should also be provided.  

It also asked authorities to recognize practices of indigenous pest management, supplementing it with modern scientific & technical knowhow. “All women workers from the informal sector/ farm women should be able to access universal coverage for all social security schemes such as pension, maternity entitlements, health, accident and life insurance,” it added, while calling for activating the Nagaland State Unorganised Social Security Welfare Board and implementing the Unorganised Workers’ Social Security Act 2008.

The declaration also stressed on augmenting market access to women by providing good connectivity, affordable transportation of agricultural produce; collection centers; and ensuring fair prices.  

Finally, it called for adoption of appropriate technology for gender inclusiveness. This includes technical support for developing innovative women friendly tools and appropriate technology for hilly terrain; and access to innovative, cost effective food-processing technology such as Millets dehusking machines to decrease drudgery.  

The North East Network (NEN) meanwhile organized an Indigenous Food Fest on October 16 on the occasion of World Food Day at Chizami with the theme ‘Local Food First: Towards a Zero Hunger World.’ 110 participants comprising of women farmers and vendors from Phek, Dimapur and Kohima districts with community leaders, Phek District Administration, members of NEN attended the fest.

NEN member, Seno Tsuhah stressed on the need to protect biodiversity, support local farmers, local food, and local economy so as to contribute towards sustainable food production and consumption, and reduce environmental impact.   Orenthung Lotha, DC Phek meanwhile highlighted about the different government programmes that support farmers, including IFAD project in Nagaland that focuses on strengthening traditional farming practices, conservation of indigenous seeds and inclusion of women in decision making. He suggested that the existing ICDS programme, instead of depending on poor quality food that comes from outside, should explore ways for procurement of local food that is highly nutritious.  

4 women farmers—Koneiu Lohe, Muluvolu, Vezhotolu and Lhikoweu Chirhah, shared their experiences on the ‘Challenges and opportunities in climate resilient agriculture’ and appealed for addressing concerns on seeds, land, nutrition, animal conflict, credit and capital, infrastructure, social security and inclusion of women in decision making processes.