About CIMA 2023 Conference

20th Triennial Congress of International Association of Agricultural Museums (AIMA) The purpose of the International Association of Agricultural Museums AIMA is to educate the public through Agriculture Museums about the significance of agriculture to human society, to explain the many ways that agriculture has evolved through time, and facilitate dialogue between museums across the globe about agricultural topics and discoveries.

Today, despite an urbanising world, agriculture is an important focus for lives and livelihoods for a majority of populations in the global South. Here, museums face the task of keeping track of and describing a living practice engaged in adaptation of tradition in diverse ways, even as the environmental context of agriculture changes in an unforeseen manner.

At AIMA’s XXth triennial congress CIMA 2023 being held in Asia and in India for the first time, we focus on how Agriculture maintains itself as a living tradition, and how living agriculture maintains its relevance by adapting past traditions with current observations to create changes for sustainable futures and discuss how agricultural museums can play an important educational role in alignment with research institutes and universities.

Who attends CIMA Faculty of agricultural universities, professionals of museum and heritage centres, agriculture NGOs, social scientists, policy makers, students, Farmers’ organisations, and interested members of the public.

The Congress CIMA 2023 in India The AIMA congress travels to different countries every three years in order to discover new environmental and museographic realities, new ideas, new experiences and projects that can be spread to other countries.

The South Asian region has a long history of agriculture traditions. Agriculture remains central to the Indic civilisation and its many achievements. Much remains to be done to document and communicate the rich tradition in Agriculture in India. Despite a decrease in the number of farmers over the past forty years, there are still a significant number of farms and farm working families, and the rural still forms almost fifty percent of the Indian population. The knowledge, heritage, techniques and expertise of farming practitioners, their current and transmitted observations from the past, at the core of agricultural adaptation, needs to be documented for posterity.

In the third decade of the twenty-first century, a series of events have given an even deeper cause for a new effort at evaluation and reflection. Agriculture today has multiple stresses, from economics and commerce to ecological and climate change and their disastrous effects. The solutions to this do not have a one-size-fits-all solution.

Reexamining agricultural traditions - specially the current living adaptations of tradition, helps understand unique requirements of farming, and describe search for alternatives to address local problems.

What types of museums must one then create to promote forms of economic development that are more respectful of local ecosystems, social organisation and values? How does one interpret agriculture in an ever changing environment? Constituents, visitors and non-visitors alike, have their own interests, which complicate the task of interpretation by agricultural museums today.

Finding evidence and collecting stories needs to involve partners. This not only makes the task less overwhelming, but also increases the diversity of perspectives, makes the information more relevant and helps convey it better. Expanding agricultural processes to discuss causes and effects will yield useful connections with other aspects of human life - from nutrition and health on one hand to land and the environment on the other.

Collections of tangible objects and associated intangible knowledge form the basis of knowledge collections. It is worthwhile collecting tools and utensils that constitute a great pool of technical variability not only because of the scientific usefulness of the comparative history of techniques but also to stimulate the progressive adaptation of these techniques. Such adaptation alone is compatible, especially in the global south, with the emergence of non-destructive agro-ecosystems. It is important for these objects to be documented with evidence collected from their users but also relocated in their cultural and social context, in order to better conserve, display and pass on the knowledge heritage to future generations.

The effort of CIMA 23 is to scale up the documentation and communication of the rich tradition and living adaptations of Agriculture in India, and facilitate this process by seeking synergies with organisations and institutions that share a common mandate. In such a milieu, the significance of agriculture to society needs to be represented to the public. From universities to museums, farm organisations to collectives, to institutions connected with farming and agriculture from the non-profit to the commercial sector, we hope to facilitate an eco-system of information sharing about agricultural topics, heritage, tradition, adaptation and discoveries.

Objectives of CIMA 23

  1. Present an awareness of multiple dimensions of agricultural practice.
  2. Present some of the characteristics of the South Asian agricultural region, from history and tradition, to present day use and adaptation.
  3. Knowledge of sustainable agriculture and food production including Millet as Sustainable Grain that celebrates 2023 as International Year of Millet.
  4. Recognize the importance of the rural way of life and small-holder and family farms in reducing poverty and improving global food security.
  5. Draw attention to Farmer held knowledge, its continuing importance and validity - from an ecosystem perspective, pest and disease perspective and nutrition security.
  6. Identify and address multiple audiences, including farmers and rural audiences, enrich lives of the urban population by reconnecting through experiences of rural cultural heritage so that they understand our relevance in today’s world.
  7. New approaches in museum engagement by using object collections, creating engaging hands-on approaches and use of digital media for digital databases of collections, digital exhibitions, and so on.
  8. To work with farmer organisations and research institutions to facilitate strong bonds between scientists and farmers.
  9. Facilitate the creation of an agricultural museum and knowledge network across South Asia and internationally.

Outcomes of CIMA23
  1. Facilitate up gradation of agricultural museums and heritage centres across the country, by connecting museum and digital technology professionals with interested agricultural institutions and museums.
  2. To connect social scientists and museum professionals to agricultural institutions and universities at a time when the agriculture sector is largely staffed by scientists.
  3. To create a network of agricultural institution partners to undertake an countrywide farmer based oral history research and documentation project on transformation in land development, water practices, fertilisers, helpful seeds and other key transformative events in individual farmer’s histories from memory and experience.
  4. Facilitate development of an digital Agriculture Communication Network for a wider public; comprising farmers’ organisations, agricultural universities, museums, heritage centres, agriculture NGOs, academics and interested members of the public.

CIMA 2023 - Session Themes and Connected Topics

How do museums explain current farming challenges and their causes, the concerns of the past decades of the twentieth century, their attempts at resolution and emerging consequences. How can agriculture and farming heritage be used to ensure global food safety? How do agricultural museums incorporate and communicate the ‘transformations’ in the food systems for a modern world. How do current issues affect research, exhibition, and public programming goals? Topics
  • Green revolution and after—practices in post-chemical intensive agriculture
  • Social History of the farm and the effect of technology and mechanisation
  • Soil health and its impacts
  • Climate Stress - and dealing with it
  • Tools, implements and techniques - the transformation to Farm machinery

What can museums learn from tried and trusted farming practices and farmer held-knowledge of ecologies, specially in marginal and critical ecosystems. How does research into from-the-field cases provide innovative solutions and methods for the museum. Presenting case studies from the global South that show how agriculture remains a living tradition. Topics
  • What makes Millet a sustainable worldwide crop in a warming world.
  • Managing Water and Irrigation
  • Animal welfare and wellbeing — insects as markers of well being
  • Food collection, storage, processing and managing nutrition - traditional and historical practice
  • Agriculture , Food and nutrition
  • Intangible knowledge of Agriculture - sources , methods and documentation
  • Safeguarding traditional varieties and breeds (seed banks / rare breeds / collections and collectors)
  • Sayings and mnemonics eg folk sayings connecting weather and farming calendar (correlation with contemporary irregular weather)
  • Agriculture as performative heritage- festivals, ritual, song, performance.

Bringing out the ‘living’ Culture in Agriculture. How can agricultural and rural museum’s communicate history of farming practice, resilience, traditional knowledge and embedded cultural expression and values? What modern museological approaches and practices are agricultural museums using to collect, preserve, and interpret changes that have influenced/ are influencing agriculture and rural life? Topics
  • Food and nutritional security
  • Pest Management and Crop Protection
  • Biographies of seeds, tools and implements - an oral history of agricultural pratice
  • Collecting living agricultural heritage (ICH)
  • Diversity of farming practice – between ecology and commerce
  • Foraged foods – eg Keerai project
  • Native Seeds and local ecology
  • Organic and sustainable farming – its multiple aspects

How do museum collections, exhibitions and activities connect to historical memory and practice. Agriculture and farming history from region to village. Using Oral histories of farming practice at the museum. Collections and Exhibitions, practices and outcomes. Using Art , Farming Practice and Folklore to communicate while going beyond the twentieth century agriculture museum experience. Topics
  • Communicating with youth audiences using hands-on activities to digital technologies.
  • Developing experiences that use new digital technologies – Augmented Reality / Visual Reality, Artificial Intelligence, the Internet of Things and its potential in agricultural museums.
  • Creating agricultural museums online - networking multiple institutions for an overarching story of farming and change.
  • Web and Phone Apps that communicate farming history and practice - and aid in collection of local voices and stories.
  • Multi lingual communication of rural and agricultural stories - case studies and possibilities.

Farm equipment Gallery at PAU, Ludhiana
Root Structures of various crop plants, PAU, Ludhiana
Wheat fields near Aligarh, UP
Traditional grain storage bins held in village commons, Kokrajhar, Assam
Animal powered wells to lift water for irrigation, Rajasthan
Gond tribal woman pounding grains, Chhatisgarh
Village potter drying his products, Tamil Nadu
An early example of an Indian Tractor at PAU, Ludhiana
Bullock cart, United Provinces, India 1900