Manipur is a small landlocked Indian state bordering Myanmar. Its remote location has allowed biodiversity to develop undisturbed here for centuries. Agriculture is the main occupation of the Indigenous people living on this land, and rice is the most popular crop in their fields.
Manipur hosts more than 20 different heirloom rice varieties, many of which supposedly have better nutritional value and medicinal properties than the market varieties. However, due to the lower yield of many of these varieties, farmers have switched to producing other more market-friendly rice instead, slowly leading to the neglect of their traditional foods. As a result, the memory of traditional uses and benefits of these heirloom varieties is left to a handful of farmers who are keeping them alive. This is their story.
Manipur is a small landlocked state bordering Myanmar. Agriculture is the main occupation of the Indigenous people in the Indo-China region, which is considered rice’s primary place of origin. During the primary growing season between January to July, one can find diverse forms of indigenous rice cultivars or landraces, including wild relatives.
“As local farmers, most of us grow black rice. There are many varieties of black rice: Chakhao Sempa, Chakhao Poreiton, Chakhao Amubi. On my farm, we have been growing Poreiton black rice for 10 years. It has a better flavor and pleasant aroma. This particular variety spreads rapidly, grows taller but takes a long time. ”
- Thingbaijam Amuchou, Indigenous farmer
Good agronomic practices include adequate fertilization, water and weed management, lower plant density, and sustainable farming practices. For example, in the countries where rice is the dominant crop and staple food, people’s livelihood depends on the crop’s availability, quality, and sustainability. Consequently, this crop’s sustainability has become one of the crucial priorities in the world.
Every Manipuri family mixes less starchy superfine white rice with traditional rice, believing traditional varieties cause obesity and digestive issues. In hopes to myth bust the nutritional value of superfine rice and our traditional rice, I asked an expert, Devanska Singh, and a young farming apprentice, Brucelee Louriyam.
“You go to Southeast Asian countries, like Myanmar, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, Japan, and China, everywhere, they only eat sticky rice. Here, you see, when we were kids, some 50 years ago, we didn’t use any rice mill. We used to pound the rice, and in that way, the nutritional value of rice is not lost. And in Manipur, you can find all the different varieties that you see in other Asian countries.”
- Potshangbam Devakanta, farmer and president of All Manipur Medicinal and Aromatic Plant Grower Consortium
Old and obscure rice varieties are being rapidly replaced by new ones in many areas.
“ The taste and flavor of our traditional rice is superior to the rice that we import from abroad. ”
- Brucelee Louriyam, progressive young farmer
Scientists believe that rice’s originated in the Indo-Myanmar region. For Devakanta, this area includes Manipur, due to the five varieties of wild rice found in its environment. Wild rice slowly transformed into domesticated, traditional varieties. And today, Manipur’s scientists are using these local varieties to develop new high-yielding ones.
Devakanta has succeeded in preserving 130 traditional paddy varieties and has cultivated 25 different rice varieties in his lust green farm. He also conserves medicinal plants of Manipur and runs an NGO called All Manipur Medicinal and Aromatic Plant Grower Consortium. His passion for conservation in his organic farm, including the Chakhao Poreiton black rice, believed to have anti-cancer properties and drought-resistant varieties differentiates him from other farmers.
When farmers across India are grappling with weather woes and poor yields, Potshangbam Devakanta, a 64 years old resident of Manipur, has succeeded in adopting smart and eco-friendly farming methods to ensure a satisfactory harvest every year.
“System of rice intensification (SRI) provides 50% to 100% higher yields. For example, when planted normally, Changlie (rice) produces 2 tonnes per hectare. With SRI methods yields can reach 3 tonnes each season.”
- Potshangbam Devakanta, farmer and president of All Manipur Medicinal and Aromatic Plant Grower Consortium
Land clearing for growing irrigation systems, drainage projects, and urbanization is eliminating primitive and wild relatives. Moreover, global climate change dreadfully affects local ecology, environment, and biodiversity. Rural development’s current situation relies on a need for food security. The exchange of knowledge and information, with or among the farmers, shareholders, and government departmental resources is crucial to building a thriving agricultural community. The new normal of rice cultivation in Manipur depends on accessibility to research and financial institutions to instill double cropping and integrated farming.
When farmers protect biodiversity, they conserve and steward their seeds from one season to the next. When communities protect biodiversity, they establish seedbanks to help both farmers and scientists. Each seed planted is a contract with nature to secure the genetic heritage of these crops for seasons to come.
Local and indigenous knowledge refers to the understandings, skills, and philosophies developed by societies with long histories of interaction with their natural surroundings. For rural and indigenous peoples, local knowledge informs decision-making about fundamental aspects of day-to-day life.
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Providing best water quality conditions to ensure optimal living condition for growth, breeding and other physiological needs
Water quality is sourced from natural seawater with dependency on the tidal system. Water is treated to adjust pH and alkalinity before stocking.
Producers that own and manages the farm operating under small-scale farming model with limited input, investment which leads to low to medium production yield
All 1,149 of our farmers in both regencies are smallholder farmers who operate with low stocking density, traditional ponds, and no use of any other intensification technology.
Safe working conditions — cleanliness, lighting, equipment, paid overtime, hazard safety, etc. — happen when businesses conduct workplace safety audits and invest in the wellbeing of their employees
Company ensure implementation of safe working conditions by applying representative of workers to health and safety and conduct regular health and safety training. The practices are proven by ASIC standards’ implementation
Implementation of farming operations, management and trading that impact positively to community wellbeing and sustainable better way of living
The company works with local stakeholders and local governments to create support for farmers and the farming community in increasing resilience. Our farming community is empowered by local stakeholders continuously to maintain a long generation of farmers.
Freezing seafood rapidly when it is at peak freshness to ensure a higher quality and longer lasting product
Our harvests are immediately frozen with ice flakes in layers in cool boxes. Boxes are equipped with paper records and coding for traceability. We ensure that our harvests are processed with the utmost care at <-18 degrees Celsius.
Sourcing plant based ingredients, like soy, from producers that do not destroy forests to increase their growing area and produce fish feed ingredients
With adjacent locations to mangroves and coastal areas, our farmers and company are committed to no deforestation at any scale. Mangrove rehabilitation and replantation are conducted every year in collaboration with local authorities. Our farms are not established in protected habitats and have not resulted from deforestation activity since the beginning of our establishment.
Implement only natural feeds grown in water for aquatic animal’s feed without use of commercial feed
Our black tiger shrimps are not fed using commercial feed. The system is zero input and depends fully on natural feed grown in the pond. Our farmers use organic fertilizer and probiotics to enhance the water quality.
Enhance biodiversity through integration of nature conservation and food production without negative impact to surrounding ecosysytem
As our practices are natural, organic, and zero input, farms coexist with surrounding biodiversity which increases the volume of polyculture and mangrove coverage area. Farmers’ groups, along with the company, conduct regular benthic assessments, river cleaning, and mangrove planting.
THE TERM “MOONSHOT” IS OFTEN USED TO DESCRIBE an initiative that goes beyond the confines of the present by transforming our greatest aspirations into reality, but the story of a moonshot isn’t that of a single rocket. In fact, the Apollo program that put Neil Armstrong on the moon was actually preceded by the Gemini program, which in a two-year span rapidly put ten rockets into space. This “accelerated” process — with a new mission nearly every 2-3 months — allowed NASA to rapidly iterate, validate their findings and learn from their mistakes. Telemetry. Propulsion. Re-entry. Each mission helped NASA build and test a new piece of the puzzle.
The program also had its fair share of creative challenges, especially at the outset, as the urgency of the task at hand required that the roadmap for getting to the moon be written in parallel with the rapid pace of Gemini missions. Through it all, the NASA teams never lost sight of their ultimate goal, and the teams finally aligned on their shared responsibilities. Within three years of Gemini’s conclusion, a man did walk on the moon.
FACT is a food systems solutions activator that assesses the current food landscape, engages with key influencers, identifies trends, surveys innovative work and creates greater visibility for ideas and practices with the potential to shift key food and agricultural paradigms.
Each activator focuses on a single moonshot; instead of producing white papers, policy briefs or peer-reviewed articles, these teams design and implement blueprints for action. At the end of each activator, their work is released to the public and open-sourced.
As with any rapid iteration process, many of our activators re-assess their initial plans and pivot to address new challenges along the way. Still, one thing has remained constant: their conviction that by working together and pooling their knowledge and resources, they can create a multiplier effect to more rapidly activate change.
Who can enter and how selections are made.
A Greener Blue is a global call to action that is open to individuals and teams from all over the world. Below is a non-exhaustive list of subjects the initiative targets.
To apply, prospective participants will need to fill out the form on the website, by filling out each part of it. Applications left incomplete or containing information that is not complete enough will receive a low score and have less chance of being admitted to the storytelling lab.
Nonprofit organizations, communities of fishers and fish farmers and companies that are seeking a closer partnership or special support can also apply by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org and interacting with the members of our team.
Special attention will be given to the section of the form regarding the stories that the applicants want to tell and the reasons for participating. All proposals for stories regarding small-scale or artisanal fishers or aquaculturists, communities of artisanal fishers or aquaculturists, and workers in different steps of the seafood value chain will be considered.
Stories should show the important role that these figures play in building a more sustainable seafood system. To help with this narrative, the initiative has identified 10 principles that define a more sustainable seafood system. These can be viewed on the initiative’s website and they state:
Seafood is sustainable when:
Proposed stories should show one or more of these principles in practice.
Applications are open from the 28th of June to the 15th of August 2022. There will be 50 selected applicants who will be granted access to The Lexicon’s Total Storytelling Lab. These 50 applicants will be asked to accept and sign a learning agreement and acceptance of participation document with which they agree to respect The Lexicon’s code of conduct.
The first part of the lab will take place online between August the 22nd and August the 26th and focus on training participants on the foundation of storytelling, supporting them to create a production plan, and aligning all of them around a shared vision.
Based on their motivation, quality of the story, geography, and participation in the online Lab, a selected group of participants will be gifted a GoPro camera offered to the program by GoPro For A Change. Participants who are selected to receive the GoPro camera will need to sign an acceptance and usage agreement.
The second part of the Storytelling Lab will consist of a production period in which each participant will be supported in the production of their own story. This period goes from August 26th to October 13th. Each participant will have the opportunity to access special mentorship from an international network of storytellers and seafood experts who will help them build their story. The Lexicon also provides editors, animators, and graphic designers to support participants with more technical skills.
The final deadline to submit the stories is the 14th of October. Participants will be able to both submit complete edited stories, or footage accompanied by a storyboard to be assembled by The Lexicon’s team.
All applicants who will exhibit conduct and behavior that is contrary to The Lexicon’s code of conduct will be automatically disqualified. This includes applicants proposing stories that openly discriminate against a social or ethnic group, advocate for a political group, incite violence against any group, or incite to commit crimes of any kind.
All submissions must be the entrant’s original work. Submissions must not infringe upon the trademark, copyright, moral rights, intellectual rights, or rights of privacy of any entity or person.
Participants will retain the copyrights to their work while also granting access to The Lexicon and the other partners of the initiative to share their contributions as part of A Greener Blue Global Storytelling Initiative.
If a potential selected applicant cannot be reached by the team of the Initiative within three (3) working days, using the contact information provided at the time of entry, or if the communication is returned as undeliverable, that potential participant shall forfeit.
Selected applicants will be granted access to an advanced Storytelling Lab taught and facilitated by Douglas Gayeton, award-winning storyteller and information architect, co-founder of The Lexicon. In this course, participants will learn new techniques that will improve their storytelling skills and be able to better communicate their work with a global audience. This skill includes (but is not limited to) how to build a production plan for a documentary, how to find and interact with subjects, and how to shoot a short documentary.
The Lexicon provides video editors, graphic designers, and animators to support the participants to complete their stories.
The submitted stories will be showcased during international and local events, starting from the closing event of the International Year of Fisheries and Aquaculture 2022 in Rome, in January 2023. The authors of the stories will be credited and may be invited to join.
Storytelling lab participation:
Applicants that will be granted access to the storytelling Lab will be evaluated based on the entries they provided in the online form, and in particular:
Applications will be evaluated by a team of 4 judges from The Lexicon, GSSI and the team of IYAFA (Selection committee).
When selecting applications, the call promoters may request additional documentation or interviews both for the purpose of verifying compliance with eligibility requirements and to facilitate proposal evaluation.
Participants to the Storytelling Lab who will be given a GoPro camera will be selected based on:
The evaluation will be carried out by a team of 4 judges from The Lexicon, GSSI and the team of IYAFA (Selection committee).
Incidental expenses and all other costs and expenses which are not specifically listed in these Official Rules but which may be associated with the acceptance, receipt and use of the Storytelling Lab and the camera are solely the responsibility of the respective participants and are not covered by The Lexicon or any of the A Greener Blue partners.
All participants who receive a Camera are required to sign an agreement allowing GoPro for a Cause, The Lexicon and GSSI to utilize the films for A Greener Blue and their promotional purposes. All participants will be required to an agreement to upload their footage into the shared drive of The Lexicon and make the stories, films and images available for The Lexicon and the promoting partners of A Greener Blue.