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 include:

– 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. December and January 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 March 2022.


Group discussion by ALC members of Thadmuthlong village, West Jaintia Hills.


1. Workshops on problem solving, objective setting & community work-plan: In February 2022, 17 workshops were held and 16 workshops were then completed in March 2022, which focused on the following objectives:

  • 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 include:

  • 100 villages participated in these workshops.
  • 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)

    ALC members of Mulum, West Jaintia Hills District after the problem solving workshop.


Community seed Exchange held at Mulum,
West jaintia Hills District.

2. Signing of ALC Pledge: A total of 188 ALC groups have signed the “ALC Member Pledge” from the 100 partner communities. The pledge guarantees the membership of the farmers in their ALC groups and at the same time assures the roles and responsibilities and the commitment of each member towards the ALC group.


ALC Pledge

3. Development of Community work plan: 188 ALC groups have developed a work plan (Annex 2) at the community level to initiate the work on the experiments which have been prioritised.

4. Facilitation of exchange visits: A total of 10 exchange visits have been facilitated. Nine exchange visits
on Community Seed Bank have been achieved, hosted in Mulum (West Jaintia Hills) and Mawryngkang
(Ri-Bhoi), which saw the participation of 26 villages in total. The programme aimed at building a strong network between the different community seed banks and at the same time, to facilitate exchange of knowledge on indigenous crops, seed savings and seed propagation. It also focused on seeds exchange between the communities with the goal to protect, elevate and safeguard all the indigenous seeds in the community. Umsawwar (East Khasi Hills) hosted two villages from Mawkynrew area, viz, Pashang and Siangkhnai, and facilitated an exchange visit cum training on berkeley composting.

5. Technical training by NESFAS and/or experts on soil/pest: Also, in
Ri-Ribhoi district, Rongsahep hosted Pisamhuru, Belkuri hosted Khulia and Marmain, and Umngei hosted Nongtyrlaw and Pahamshiken villages, in which an ALC member from Mawryngkang imparted training on berkeley composting among the ALC members. Jaud (East Khasi Hills) hosted two villages, viz, Shilliangktieh and Wahramkhar to initiate trainings on vermicomposting and soil fertility. Nongkhrah (Ri-Bhoi) hosted three villages, viz, Mawphrew, Mawiong and Pahambir villages and focused the technical training in managing the ‘Niangkyrdai’ pest which mostly infest orange fruit trees.


A demonstration on the Berkeley Composting technique for ALC members of Pashang and Siangkhnai


6. Leadership training programme: In the quest to encourage and engage young leaders within its partner communities, NESFAS organised 2 leadership training programmes for Community Facilitators (CFs) from 77 villages, in association with the State Institute of Rural Development (SIRD) at Nongsder, to build capacity and enhance the leadership performance of the CFs. The training curriculum was designed to strengthen leadership qualities, communication and also to help in documenting stories from the ground to promote sustainable traditional farming and food systems. Also, 28 CFs have imparted the same training to the ALC members in their respective villages.


Workshop on Leadership Development Programme at SIRD


7. Agrobiodiversity (ABD) Walk: Pyngkya (East Khasi Hills) conducted an ABD walk which saw the participation of 26 youth and children, led by a custodian farmer. The main aim of the ABD walk is to facilitate
intergenerational knowledge exchange, at the same time, to inculcate appreciation of the rich biodiversity of their community and the importance of protecting Mother Nature. The programme also helped young generation learn, identify and document 20 cultivated crops and wild edibles plants from the various food production systems. The
custodian farmer explained children about the value of the food plants and along with the nutritive values as per the local knowledge.


Signing of pledge by the ALC members of Mawphrew village, Ri-Bhoi

8. Community Led Participatory Research and Experiment: Under this programme, the land preparation and potato plantation in the ALC garden has been completed in Nongwah (East Khasi Hills). This activity will serve
as the base for the experiments to be conducted by the ALC members.


Sharing of problems and solutions by the community members of Laitthemlangsah.


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 1 April is the season where vegetation starts. All the Team will conduct ABD work during this month.
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 30 Completed
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 28 Completed 2 batches of training at SIRD and 24 CF have trained other ALC members in their respective villages. 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 33 Completed
B Develop a community work plan that addresses priority problems agreed on by consensus and decide on the need for additional experts or not 30 100 Completed
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 6 Training conducted are berkeley composting, Vermicomposting, soil infertility and pest management of Niangkyrdai.
D Facilitate exchange visits between villages that have
complementary problems/solutions so ALC members can learn from other ALC members in other regions
30 10 8 clusters villages participated in the Community seeds banks exchange visits in Mulum and 1 in Ri-Bhoi cluster. 1 cluster in Mawkynrew on soil composting. 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 workplan
B Support community in design their ALC experiments 20 1 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 workplan
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. International Women’s Day – Honoring Indigenous Food Sheroes
  2. Women empowered to play active roles: 28 Village Councils include women as members
  3. Bah Grossful Pariong and his 20 ducks: A story of an unconventional way of pest management
  4. Madanrtiang spearheads community-led indigenous seed preservation
  5. Back to their roots: Farmers from Pyrda bring change in the food system



  1. Completion of Community led ALC Kick-off Workshop;
  2. ABD (Agrobiodiversity Walks) with community and NESFAS experts to explore diversity of local species together;
  3. Experiments will be initiated, tested, and validated for efficacy.
  4. Initiate the development of Information, Education and Communication (IEC) materials.
  5. 1 Leadership training for the Community Facilitators (CFs) of Garo Hills.
  6. The trained CFs shall then impart training unto their ALC peers in their respective villages.
  7. Facilitate exchange visits.
  8. Conduct technical trainings.

Community attending the Seed Exchange Visit, Mulum, West Jaintia Hills.



Children after the ABD walk at Pyngkya community.





“We need to respect the various animals and bird species as well as the bees that play a significant role in our farming system. We must not kill them, instead we have to love and respect them for what they do.”
-Bah Grossful Pariong, Custodian farmer,
Mawkamoit community.

“As a school teacher, I encourage other
teachers, elders, parents to be the caretaker of the traditional farming system and to encourage the youth, especially the students by providing them a chance to learn about agriculture and to sustain the traditional Method”.
-Bah Shaiphar Dohling, School Headmaster,
Dewlieh community.

“I feel very delighted to have attended the Community Seed Bank exchange visit at Mulum. Since we aim to preserve and promote traditional seeds, this kind of program paves a way for us to obtain more seed varieties from other communities as well”.
-Ambitious Umsong,
ALC member from
Khapmaw community.

“I encourage my fellow farmers to practise traditional farming and to avoid the use of chemicals for a sustainable livelihood and for better soil health so that it can bring out good production.”
–Kong Teilis Nongrum,
ALC member from Pyrda community.


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