Forest produce festival begins in Meghalaya

SHILLONG: Amidst the global cry for a greener tomorrow and depleting environmenthas emerged a humble effort to restore and preserve the green, besides providing livelihood opportunity to rural folks in the northeast - known as a major biodiversity hotspot on earth.

With this in mind, the annual 'Neat Fest' with the theme 'Showcasing Value Added Minor Forest Produce of North East', organized by the North Eastern Region Community Resource Management Project (NERCORMP) got underway at the All Saints Hall premises here even as World Biodiversity Day was observed through various seminars and workshops.

The aroma of various ethnic brews and delightful dishes of the northeast wafted through the air as many as 30 stalls were setup at the venue that showcased both agro and non agro-based products of the region.

Several other stalls showcased the intricately designed handicrafts of the region, even as others put on show organically grown cereals and vegetables.

"Our endeavour is to make use of the produces of the rural communities which do not deplete the environment and market their products in more profitable ways," said NERCORMP communications officer Dimple S Das.

Dwelling on the environmental aspect of it, Das observed that these days people were "much into foreign goods" and tend to forget about nature's gift, a myriad variety of major and minor forest produce, which are organic and beneficial.

She, however, expressed optimism over the fact that environmental awareness was on the rise and "transition from foreign to own organic produces" was taking place, albeit slowly.

Yobina L Marshillong representing a self-help group from West Khasi Hills district felt elated at the opportunity provided by NERCORMP. "We are thankful to NERCORMP for having guided us to earn our livelihood in a sustainable manner," Yobina said.

Through its annual festival the NERCORMP provides platform to showcase products of SHGs promoted by it in six districts spread across Manipur, Meghalaya and Assam.

"We are on the look out to extend our services to other districts of the region as well," an official said.