In the village of Nongtraw in Meghalaya, one of the world’s wettest region, honey is quite sought after by the Khasi indigenous community who go to the forest to collect it. When they reach a beehive, they introduce themselves to the bee, “informing the bees” that they will only take what is required.

This legacy of respect for local agrobiodiversity by not disrupting the ecological balance has stood the Khasi community of Nongtraw in good stead when it comes to climate change-linked food stress, underscores a United Nations report.

The UN’s Food and Agricultural Organisation report on Indigenous People’s Food Systems co-published by the Food and Agricultural Organisation and the Alliance of Bioversity International and International Center for Tropical Agriculture includes the profiles of eight Indigenous Peoples food systems from around the world, including Uttarakhand and Meghalaya.

In Nongtraw, a village solely inhabited by the Khasi, diverse traditional food systems supported by jhum (shifting cultivation), home gardens, forest and water bodies, shying away from synthetic chemicals in food production and community-led landscape management underpin this indigenous food system’s resilience to climate change and sustainability.

Diverse traditional food

Nongtraw lies along the mid-slope of a deep gorge in the Cherrapunji region, a highly dissected plateau along the southern margins of the Meghalaya…

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