It Takes a Village to Save a Planet: Chizami, Nagaland

Geetanjali Prasad

In the far-flung eastern corner of India, a small village has been writing its own story of sustainability for more than a decade. Led by North East Network (NEN), the Chizami village in Nagaland works toward improving the quality of life of local women by generating employment in the region, which is mostly cut off from the cities, by weaving traditional textiles and organic farming.

The Chizami model of sustainability focusses both on socioeconomic reforms and environmental protection. NEN offers skill development programs such as bamboo craft, food processing, organic farming, rainwater harvesting and low-cost sanitation. Sessions on governance, women's empowerment and human rights issues are also organized.

Several other steps to revive and enhance traditional agricultural practices have also been taken. Attention is being brought to millet, which is the only crop that is edible even after 30 years of storage and which can provide nutrition during a time of drought. Awareness raising has led to 150 farmers from eight villages adopting millet-based farming.

Additionally, a group of female farmers are spearheading sustainable agricultural practices by managing traditional seed banks in Chizami. These women are equipped to identify indigenous seeds from other hybrid or inferior varieties. Not only do they select and store the best seeds for future use, they also share their knowledge with other farmers who approach them for help.

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