Zeinorin Stephen Angkang
Zeinorin Angkang’s vision to transform
Vishü Rita Krocha
Kohima | June 8
“The tribal food has a lot of wisdom that has been passed down from generation to generation. It is very resilient and I think it is very special. We need to protect and expand more, and for me, to be a part of food security is what called me home.” This is what brought Zeinorin Stephen Angkang, back to her native village in Ukhrul, where she founded “Hill Wild” in the winter of 2017.
Barely four years into the venture of transforming the lives of indigenous farmers, the 29-year-old has been selected as one of the world’s 12 exceptional young leaders for Kofi Annan Changemakers 2021. The other young Changemakers are from Ghana, Malawi, Uganda, Colombia, Malaysia, Kosova, Zimbabwe, Afghanistan, Nigeria and 2 from Philippines.
In an exclusive interview with The Morung Express, she said, “I am very excited and it is a very huge responsibility. But I think the voice and mission of indigenous farmers and the true belief of us in the power of indigenous food can be amplified more.”
Last year, she was also recognised in Rome by The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), an international financial institution and a specialised agency of the United Nations for the remarkable work she has been doing. It was IFAD that nominated her for the Kofi Annan Changemakers.
Highlighting what lies ahead for the twelve young leaders, she said, “they would like to start engaging with us for 6 months, connecting with us, being mentored by some of the leaders in the Kofi Annan Foundation and they will be giving us some seed grant at the end of the program so that we can continue to impact more and expand the work that we do.”
The Foundation had also stated that “the twelve young leaders, who have already demonstrated commitment and impact in their respective fields, will interact with leaders from the high-level network of Kofi Annan and the Kofi Annan Foundation, searching for ways to build their capacity for positive action.”
Looking back on her journey of starting ‘Hill Wild’, Zeinorin Stephen Angkang recalled that “I gave a lot of thought about which sector I would be giving my everything into.” It was during this period of time that she also observed that the North East in general and particularly with the tribals, there is something very special about the food that we eat.
Hill Wild manufactures candies, confectioneries, and work with Tangkhul indigenous farmers apart from spices that are exported to the United States, Canada and Switzerland through their partners. Through the initiative, she is also ensuring that the farmers are getting a fair price and getting the maximum benefit.
Right now, because of the pandemic, Hill Wild products are sold mostly online, but are otherwise available in various metro cities and North East apart from the export abroad.
On her experience of working with farmers, she shared that “It takes a lot of courage and persistence to really convince someone to believe in themselves and in the kind of agriculture that they do.” But over the years, they have successfully managed to work with them, which currently numbers to about 200 farmers.
Zeinorin Stephen Angkang is married to Leiyolan Vashum and Hill Wild is also a story of their common love for food and a noble vision to transform Ukhrul, which they call home. In a message to peers and youth, she also said, “Let us be responsible to transform our community. No ambition is too small or big. We have to make it worth doing.”