The project “Empowering indigenous communities through Agroecology Learning Circles (ALCs) for
resilient, integrated and innovative natural resource management” is funded by the World Bank and
supported by Meghalaya Basin Management Agency (MBMA). ALCs combined agroecology with
participatory research and aims to empower indigenous communities to recognize, revive, practice, and
eventually further develop traditional agroecology technologies and practices and stimulates local
innovation for sustainable local food systems. Natural resource management investigated through ALCs

  • Land planning and seed selection for community resilience;
  • Increasing Yield by reducing loss through Pest Management;
  • Reversing soil degradation.

The project also aims to achieve:

  • Greater accountability across ALC members to resolve priority issues;
  • Ease of access to blended indigenous-contemporary solutions already documented;
  • Continued and expanded community learning through intuition and community led experiments;
  • Ease of knowledge exchanges across different ALC clusters;
  • Preparation for long term ALC community ownership.

The project area will include 100 villages from all three major indigenous communities in Meghalaya
(Khasi, Garo and Jaintia) across 7 of the 12 districts in Meghalaya.

The project’s MOU was signed in November 2021 and funds of Rs 1,74,24,931.00 (One crore seventy four lakhs twenty four thousand nine hundred and thirty one only) received on December 23, 2021. The first two months was mainly preparatory works focused on recruitment, setting up systems, startup workshops with the partner organizations namely: Society for Urban and Rural Empowerment, Jowai and Social Service Centre, Shillong and confirming with the project villages through the Free Prior and Informed Consent process. The report highlights the key activities undertaken during December, 2021 and January, 2022.


Signing of MOU at MBMA Office



      1. Staff Orientation: The staff orientation programme was held from December 6 to 9, 2021. During the four days workshop, the team NESFAS, partner organizations, namely, Society for Urban and Rural Empowerment (SURE), Jowai and Social Service Centre (SSC) Shillong, were part of it. The staff include 12 Associates (with MSW background and years of experience in the social work field) who will will coordinate at the Cluster villages, Monitoring Team: 3 staff with experience in social work and project monitoring, Research team: 3 staff, and Communication team: 4


        Selection of Community facilitators at South West Garo Hills District.

2. Selection of Community Facilitators (CF): 100 community facilitators have been selected and recruited from every partner village to help amplify the works. The recruitment of the CF was done after a letter was sent to the headmen/nokmas of the partner villages, requesting to nominate 3 community people who have the following criteria: a) basic English reading and writing skills; b) is smart and influential; c) must be from the village. The Associate in charge of the respective cluster then conducted the interviews and selected the candidates.


Community members of Thadmuthlong village, West Jaintia Hills District at the
general awareness programme.

3. Orientation for Community Facilitators (CF): The orientation programme for the 100 selected CFs were conducted at cluster The orientation was done in 12 different clusters:

  • NESFAS: Ri-Bhoi clusters, Sohra cum Mairang clusters, Sohra Clusters, Mawkynrew clusters, East Garo Hills cum West Garo Hills Clusters, Rongram Cluster, Reraphara and Betasing Clusters.
  • SURE: Thadlaskein cluster, Laskein Cluster, Amlarem Cum Thadlaskein Clusters
  • SSC: Ri-Bhoi and East Khasi Hills Clusters

4. General Awareness: 99 awareness programmes have been conducted in the partner villages which saw the participation of 3470 community members. The objectives of the programme include:

  • To mobilize community participation in the ALC
  • To introduce the objectives and project activities to the community.
  • To identify committed farmers to be members of

After the programme, the communities have also signed the Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC), and a total of 98 communities (out of a 100) have signed and accepted the project.

In one month’s time, during the different programmes held under the project, the challenges faced by food producers and local farmers were highlighted and the strengths of the Indigenous Food Systems to address the issues of climate change, unsustainable production, loss of traditional knowledge were also discussed.


Signing of FPIC by the community members of Larnai, West Jaintia Hills District.


Various participants shared their observation in the changes they have observed in their farming practices over the years and reflected upon how actions need to be taken to conserve the natural resources of agrobiodiversity. They addressed some of the changes such as shift from traditional farming to conventional farming for increased yield, excessive use of chemicals, mono-cropping, cash cropping and more. It was observed thatmost of the farmers use chemical pesticides but many came forward and agreed to experiment with the traditional methods of pest management as an alternative to pesticides. The concept of agroecology and its components were thoroughly discussed in the programmes, laying emphasis on the traditional farming
system that has proven to be sustainable for many years. Agroecology is a science that understands farms as ecosystems with a set of productive practices and a social process or social movement where people become engaged with farming and food systems (Wezel et al. 2009).



General Awareness Programme held at Wahramkhar, East Khasi Hills District.


Some of the issues raised in the general awareness programme with possible solutions include:
Bring back lost local seed varieties into farms example Millet. Seed banks, Seed exchange programme.
Use of harmful chemical fertilizers. Adoption of different composting techniques like Berkeley methods.
Having sense of ownership to the project. Continue dialogue with the dorbar shnong, capacity building with the CFs.
Pest management. The project will engage both Indigenous knowledge and contemporary knowledge.
Lack of diversity in kitchen gardens. Seed exchange, domestication of wild edibles.



5. Review workshop: The review workshop was conducted on February 15, 2022 whereby all team members of the project from NESFAS, SURE and SSC confluence for the following purposes:

  1. To review the achievement of targets
  2. To discuss on the cluster and theme of experiments
  3. To plan the problem solving and community work plan workshop.
  4. Facilitate organizational structure and institution building

Workshop facilitation at Sohmynting

6. Workshops on problem solving, objective setting & community work-plan: The first workshop kick started in February 18, 2022, at Sohmynting village, and which saw the participation of ALC farmers from four villages. 16 other workshops of the same were then held in other clusters throughout the month.

The main aims and objectives of the workshop include:

  • To List the problems faced by farmers in terms of soil, pest and seeds and provide existing solutions to those problems.
  • To Identify the knowledge Gap.
  • To document traditional knowledge and practices from knowledge holders.
  • To share the existing solutions to problems of one community with another community.

Outputs of the workshop/s:

  • 57 villages participated in these workshops, with the participation of 747 attendees.
  • 29 problems on farming has been identified and prioritized. (See Annex 1)
  • Solutions/experiments for these problems have been identified/shared by the farmers. They will now require testing and validating. (See Annex 1))

7. Formation of ALCs: A total of 188 Agroecology Learning Circles (ALCs) have been formed, who are going to be our main stakeholders in the project and work towards achieving the goals. (See Annex 2)








Adult Male


Adult Female


Male Youth


Female Youth


ALC Problem solving workshops completed


ALC Problem solving workshops ongoing


Problems on farming identified


Pest related problems


Soil related problems


Seed related problems


Solutions on farming identified


Problem Solving Workshop held at Khweng

Problem Solving Workshop held at Khweng, Ri Bhoi District.


ALC members of Umwang Nongbah listing down problems during the workshop.

ALC members of Umwang Nongbah listing down problems during the workshop.


ALC members of Smoksonggital community listing down the problems

ALC members of Smoksonggital community listing down the problems

Output Tracker 1 Category 1: Awareness and Community Trust for newly selected 71 villages Total targets Targets achieved
till Mar, 2022
A General awareness and invitation to participate given to whole community – General awareness with entire community programme about the project explaining project goals and objective. Manage expectations by sharing the list of activities available under programme. 100 100 Completed
B ABD (Agrobiodiversity Walks) with community and NESFAS experts to explore diversity of local species together 30 0 As of now we are only doing the free listing of the agro
biodiversity and conduct the
Agro biodiversity walk, when
the vegetation season begins
C With Custodian Farmers that agreed to join ALC -orientation and and invitation to sign free and prior informed consent and engage support of Village Council 30 0 The pledge for commitment has been prepared and each ALC group member shall comply with the pledge and sign
D Community led ALC Kick-off Workshop – explaining the purpose of ALC, ways of working, allocating leadership responsibilities, agree meeting schedules, initial expectations for long term ownership of ALC 30 0 100 Community facilitators will
be trained on organisational
and leadership skills 2 Category 2: Analysis of Existing Information and Identification of Knowledge Gaps and Opportunities
A ALC Agroecology Problem Solving and Objective setting Workshop (2-3 days) – Ask community to discuss problem; reveal solutions already available in the community; identify knowledge gaps 30 17
B Develop a community work plan that addresses priority problems agreed on by consensus and decide on the need for additional experts or not 30 17
C Training from NESFAS and or experts to share relevant
technical and practical guidance and give ALC members opportunity to ask questions e.g. how to set up a seed
bank, how to choose seeds, how to create good compost
30 0 As soon as we identify the
knowledge gap and before we
start the experiment work in the village, techincal training will be given to the farmers to address the knowledge gap.
D Facilitate exchange visits between villages that have
complementary problems/solutions so ALC members can learn from other ALC members in other regions
30 0 Exchange visits will start taking
place from March, 2022, to
address the knowledge gap 3 Category:3 Community Led Participatory Research and Experiments
A Training on Participatory Research methodology for ALC Experiments that includes information on data collection, stakeholder engagement, data analysis 15 0 To be conducted after
development of
B Support community in design their ALC experiments 20 0 4 Category 4 : Supervise and facilitate experimentation & ensure ALC accountability
A Variety of activities to include field inspections, support in answering practical questions, sourcing of missing information, accountability 35 0 To be conducted after
development of
B Analyse experiment results and draft feedback and recommended follow-up actions 15 0 5 Category 5 :Knowledge Dissemination and Propagation
A Transfer experiment feedback and findings into videos, leaflets, community demonstrations 30 0 To be conducted after
development of
B Share experiment findings at village and cluster level through meetings and workshops and events e.g. food
festivals, seeds fairs
10 0
C Develop a Detailed Knowledge Collation and
Communication Strategy
10 0
D Execution of social media and radio campaigns as per strategy 10 0
E Regular identification of ALC community member ready to share their findings and participatory video and audio interviews 20 0
F State level workshop to share findings with policy makers 0 0 6 Category 6 :Empowering Community to Continue Long Term Problem Shooting
A Workshop to develop a plan of action with the village councils to take forward the initiative 0 0 To be conducted after
development of


Stories from the ground:

    1. Agroecology Learning Circles step up to defend traditional food systems.
    2. Farmer from Mawbri advocates for return to traditional farming
    3. Custodian farmer from Jaintia Hills successfully promotes traditional method for pest management nagement/
    4. Tackling day-to-day agricultural problems, hand-in-hand: Testimonies from the ground
    5. The inception of Agroecology Learning Circles and local methods of composting
    6. Local farmers work together, solve problems on agricultural obstacles
    7. Agroecology Learning Circles step up to defend traditional food systems


    1. ABD (Agrobiodiversity Walks) with community and NESFAS experts to explore diversity of local species together.
    2. Experiments will be initiated, tested, and validated for efficacy.
    3. Initiate the development of Information, Education and Communication (IEC) materials.
    4. Leadership training for the Community Facilitators (CFs).
    5. The trained CFs shall then impart training unto their ALC peers in their respective villages.
Problem solving workshop at Sohmynting

Problem solving workshop at Sohmynting


Problem solving workshop at Namdong B

Problem solving workshop at Namdong B


Problem Solving Workshop held at Liarsluid, Ri Bhoi District

Problem Solving Workshop held at Liarsluid, Ri Bhoi District


Problem Solving Workshop held at Umwang Nongbah, Ri Bhoi District.

Problem Solving Workshop held at Umwang Nongbah, Ri Bhoi District.



“As a member of the ALC, I feel grateful to
have witnessed the programme as it has given us as farmers a lot of benefits and with all the information I had received, I will be able to implement them in my community”.
-Pynhunmon Kam, ALC member, from Lumtrep

“I follow my method (planting in his backyard/garden) as there is sufficient water for the plants to grow. This method works well, especially during the winter season”.
-Iohijingkyrmen Kyndait, Fellow from

“I feel blessed to have been able to witness the programme and as a farmer I feel there is a need to uplift traditional farming and with all the solutions I received today I will take it forward to implement in my community.”
-Sakhiatlang Shadap, custodian farmer, from Larnai

“This project is very interesting, especially for farmers. We will get the opportunity to come forward and share our knowledge to the society”.
– Monica War, Farmer from Mynso community

“The coming of this project helps us to look back at the old age practices practiced by our forefathers relying on their own knowledge without using chemical fertilizers”,
– Emrit Nongrum, Farmer from Wahramkhar

“This project gives us farmers the platform to preserve and promote our traditional farming/knowledge through documentation which we never used to do”,,
– Wanklis Pale, Farmer from Iongliwit


General Awareness Programme held at Dewlieh community, East Khasi Hills District.

General Awareness Programme held at Dewlieh community, East Khasi Hills District.


General Awareness Programme held at Mawstep community, East Khasi Hills District.

General Awareness Programme held at Mawstep community, East Khasi Hills District.

Related Posts