Trinity Saioo, the founder of a women’s self-help group was named joint winner of the 8thBalipara Foundation Award for the farmer collective she began in 2003.
From a modest start with 25 other farmer women, Saioo’s SHG farmer collective has now grown to around 800 women farmers in Meghalaya, all of whom farm organically and cultivate Lakadong turmeric.
Saioo shared the prize with the Association for Environmental Preservation, Mizoram, which has been working towards creating awareness and taking action towards wildlife and biodiversity conservation.
The awards were announced following a four-day virtual edition of the 8th Eastern Himalayan Naturenomics Forum 2020, which brought together global leaders and experts to discuss the theme of ‘Ecology is Economy’.
The awards “recognise the extraordinary visionaries of the Eastern Himalayas and their indomitable contribution, who continue to live in harmony with nature and adopt sustainable methods for greening the economy,” a press release stated today.
This year’s international award was given to Tin Tin Saw from Myanmar, who started community forestry in her village to stop illegal logging and mining for construction. With her tireless efforts, a total of 61 community forestry members involved in environmental conservation activities at her village (Pin He Village) in Kachin state of Myanmar.
The national Lifetime Service Award went to Parimal Chandra Bhattacharjee, a respected academic and a retired Professor of Gauhati University, Assam. He pioneered many wetland studies, primatology and biodiversity studies across north-east India – becoming a mentor to many leading figures in conservation in North East India today. Bhattacharjee has been a guiding light to his students because of his knowledge, positive outlook and even now, continues to guide students for academic degrees and he is also actively involved in teaching and conservation assignments.
This was followed by the Naturenomics Award, which also jointly went out to went out to Seno Tsuhah, Nagaland, who works closely with community conservation and gender justice, and Jorjo Tana Tara of Seijosa, Arunachal Pradesh, who tirelessly defends the forests of Arunachal Pradesh.
Seno is a farmer, primary school teacher and community development worker based in Chizami village in Phek district of Nagaland, North East India. Seno believes that “there is an urgent need to take forward the society with good leaders in the governments and faith-based organisations. The world needs healing, not only human beings but our planet, mother earth. The Covid-19 crisis is also a time to reconcile and make peace with Mother Earth.”
Jorjo Tana Tara is an environmental activist based in Seijosa, Arunachal Pradesh, adjacent to the Pakke Tiger Reserve and sanctuary. Jorjo Tara has been fighting a solitary battle against illegal felling of trees within the forest and has actively protested the construction of dams and the East-West industrial corridor through the forest region. He has filed a case with the National Green Tribunal (2015) and has been actively pursuing the end to illegal activities within the forests of Arunachal Pradesh.
The Eastern Himalayan Conservation Award went to Sangti Wanmai Konak, Nagaland: Biodiversity Conservation and Documentation. Sangti Wanmai Konyak is a social worker, conservationist and a filmmaker who has been on a mission to safeguard his community and the forests around it. His negotiations with the Nagaland government were critical in getting a law banning hunting between April and September passed in the surrounding areas as well. This was followed by the Green Guru Award to Nosang Limboo from Sikkim, who champions the cause of butterflies through his photography and writing, and the Akshar Foundation, whose model of “meta-teaching” has been recognised by the UN.
The Food for the Future Award was given out to Parimal Das of Tripura for organic dragon fruit plantation, whose fascination with the fruit, pushed him to try and grow them in India, at the heart of Tripura, with amazing results. This year’s Nature Conservancy Award went out to Arannayk Foundation, Bangladesh: Habitat Restoration, Climate Mitigation & Natural Resource Management. Arannayk Foundation’s vision is to facilitate the conservation, protection, restoration and sustainable use of tropical forests in Bangladesh, which provide a wide range of benefits to mankind, by providing financial grants or other support to qualified organisations or entities.
Closing the evening, Balipara Foundation founder, Ranjit Barthakur, highlighted the need for more changemakers to be inspired across the region, the urgent need for collaboration across borders and to transform how we value nature – galvanising action towards “Ecology is Economy”, enhancing the action from this year’s Eastern Himalayan Naturenomics Forum.