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Northeast's Villages Witness a Surge in Local Seeds Preservation & Agripreneurship by School Students

In many interior villages in the country's Northeast, school dropouts have started growing their own food, due to poverty and drug abuse becoming a serious concern in many interior villages in the country's Northeast, school dropouts.

Shivangi Rai
School children taking part in the Seeds Mahotsav in Tinsukia
School children taking part in the Seeds Mahotsav in Tinsukia

Tailih Wangsu is a student of Arunachal Pradesh's Longding district, bordering Myanmar. About two years ago, Tailih, resumed her education in eastern Assam's Tinsukia district at Don Bosco Hijuguri and gradually began learning organic farming.

Under the National Institute of Open Schooling, Tailih is now in class XII and is among 20 such students from Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, and Assam staying at Hijuguri. At Hijuguri, they are not only back to education but have also started growing their own food in the 45 bigha land inside their farm learning center. "We just buy the seeds from the market and grow vegetables and rice for our consumption," Tailih told. "After the completion of our education, we will continue natural farming and hope to pursue it as a career as well," she added.  The students have now started preserving the local seeds and growing them in their fields so that those can be conserved for the future.

This became possible after the Don Bosco Center took the help of Samir Bordoloi, a natural farmer from Assam. "Our motive is to make sure that when they finish education, they don't become another group of educated unemployed and migrate in search of jobs. We are teaching them the conservation of our local seeds, and their cultivation and promoting the consumption of local food. This will help them become self-sustained and agripreneurs in the days to come," said Bordoloi, who has been training young boys and girls on natural farming for the past 15 years. Bordoloi is also the founder of SPREAD NE, an NGO promoting natural farming.

Preservation of Local Seeds

On April 18, the students organized Bohagi Seed Mahotsav at Don Bosco Hijuguri, where seeds of over 100 varieties of paddy and 101 varieties of greens were exhibited in order to spread awareness about the local seeds and local and healthy crops. The Mahotsav was organized as a part of celebrations of the Bohagi or Rongali Bihu, Assam's biggest cultural festival. 

Bordoloi told, "Losing out heirloom seeds means losing our food wisdom. We must preserve our local food crops by growing them in our fields and gardens. Our children must learn to be the curator of such seeds and crops. Also, we are trying to infuse knowledge at an early age."

Father John Pudussery, director of Don Bosco, Hijuguri said, "These children will go back to their villages and similarly train farmers and school children there. This will help us gradually promote natural farming, agripreneurship and create employment opportunities in their villages itself."

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