The Chiang Mai Food and Agrobiodiversity Festival (Thailand)

The Chiang Mai Food and Agrobiodiversity Festival (Thailand)

On 25th February 2011, the Chiang Mai Food Festival brought together about 500 indigenous peoples from ten different communities of northern Thailand to celebrate their local food and their unique relationship to nature. The festival highlighted the importance of agrobiodiversity and demonstrated the usefulness of such festivals by introducing the Indigenous Partnership to participating indigenous communities. The Food Festival was organised by the Indigenous Knowledge and Peoples Foundation (IKAP), Thailand, with support from several indigenous organisations including the Inter Mountain Peoples Education and Culture in Thailand (IMPECT), the Network of Indigenous People in Thailand (NIPT), the Hmong Association and the Asia .

Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP). Like the Mawphlang Food Festival, the participating indigenous communities were very excited and many said that this was perhaps the first time that an indigenous food festival had been organized.

One of the distinguishing aspects of the Chiang Mai Food Festival was the remarkable level of coordination among the representatives of the ten indigenous organisations, along with the training of six indigenous young people on participatory video, who then filmed the food festival themselves.

Some special guests were also invited to take a short walk to observe the diverse and clean food, agriculture products and herbal medicines of the different indigenous groups. The well-known local chefs from the ten indigenous groups, namely the Lahu, Tai Yai/Shan, Hmong, PgazK’Nyau (Karen), Mien, Lisu, Dara-ang, Kachin, Lua and Akhan, demonstrated their skills and local knowledge of the agrobiodiversity around them. About 50 varieties of recipes were made available for tasting and buying throughout the event. Traditional music and cultural performances, including Karen sword dancing, Hmong Jing-nong, LahuKhaen, and Lisu Sung were presented during lunch. All these performances focused on themes of culture and food security.

The Forum for Indigenous Leaders was also convened during the Festival, where few indigenous leaders shared their views and experiences on ‘Indigenous Peoples’ community food security and traditional mode of production’. Chefs were also invited to share experiences and knowledge about their foods (including its origins, properties, nutrition, taste, etc.). During this session, there was an acknowledgement that each indigenous group has its own knowledge and ways of preparing foods, which is unique and has special tastes. There was however a concern that such knowledge is disappearing, due to few young people having an interest in learning how to make traditional foods anymore and the introduction of cash crops.

As the Festival ended, there was a strong demand that this sort of local event should be repeated over the next several years.
To learn more… Indigenous Food Festival – The Healthy Food of Indigenous (Platform for Agrobiodiversity Research)

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