North East Agro Trade (NEAT) Fest is an annual event held to market different community based products from the North Eastern Region Community Resource Management Project (NERCORMP) areas. The project covers ten districts of the four states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya and Manipur. The project’s headquarter is based at Shillong in Meghalaya state. NERCORMP is a livelihood and rural development project aimed to transform the lives of the poor and marginalized tribal families in North East(NE) India. It is a joint developmental initiative of the North Eastern Region, Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region, Government of India and International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).
Like earlier NEAT Fests, for 2014 it was held at IGP Point Shillong Meghalaya India from 2nd to 5th September 2014. The NEAT Fest is organized with the main objective of showcasing the diversities of agriculture in upland North East India.
There were about thirty stalls including a display stall and a food stall from Bhutan. During NEAT Fest, different community groups such as self-help groups (SHGs), vegetable groups, and natural resource management groups from the project areas participate and display their products. These groups were formed with the financial assistance from IFAD.
Led by theProject Director (PD), the Bhutanese team comprised of the Chief Dzongkhag Agriculture Officer (DAO) from Trashiyangtse, Marketing Officer from Regional Agricultural Marketing and Cooperatives Office (RAMCO), Focal Person from RDC Wengkhar and six farmers from each MAGIP Dzongkhags.Invited by NERCORMP, the participation from Bhutan in the NEAT Fest was first of its kind and was aimed to expose farmers from the MAGIP area to other project SHGs and to see scope of external markets of agriculture products and interact with project beneficiaries of NERCORMP on the experiences and to share knowledge on farming system among the farmers.
MAGIP farmers brought products related to their Dzongkhags including handicrafts and handloom products. The product display stall had about 100 items comprising of vegetables, cereals, oil seeds, fruits, rice, processed maize, pottery, livestock products, honey, local tea leaves, lemon grass oil and soap, handloom and handicrafts from eastern Bhutan. The food stall displayed about ten popular Bhutanese cuisines. At the end of 4-day event, the team earned a gross income of Nu. 77,000 with a net profit of Nu. 11,500. The team unanimously resolved to deposit some amount of the profit in the 6 farmer group savings account.
The products and food from Bhutan were well received and became popular in the NEAT Fest 2014. Lemon grass oil and soap, bottled fermented yak cheese, chili powder, apple, buckwheat flour, Rajma bean, potato chips and Khamti rice were the most liked products in the fest.
The participation in the event was an eye opener for our farmers which gave them the experience of knowing the diversity of agricultural farming system in hill areas. Such event is important for the farming community to come together and share experiences and knowledge among different communities. The team has gained immense benefits from participating in such event and has given them the confidence of organizing such events in our project area which will help farming communities.
The participant farmers have agreed to share their experiences gained from this fest with fellow group members and other groups in their area. Similarly the other project officials and focal points agreed to initiate, support and coordinate similar event in the project area to showcase our farmers’ products and value added products among others. With the experience from the fest and feedback from other participants, the project looks forward to be better prepared and organized by including more innovative local products and cuisines in the next NEAT Fest. The project thanks NERCORMP for the invitation and support to the Bhutanese team during their stay in Shillong.
Tashi Phuntsho, Research Officer, RDC Wengkhar
Sangay Jamtsho, Marketing Officer, RAMCO
Sangay Wangdi, Project Director, MAGIP
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