International Conference on Revitalising Community Forestry in the era of socio-environmental crisis

International conference on community forestry aims to provide a productive platform to share lessons and insights from practitioners, professionals, policy actors, and researchers through plenary talks, presentations, panel discussions, audio-visual presentations, and field visits. It is designed to forge productive dialogue between practice-based insights, theories, and policy questions. It is expected that the conference will draw relevant lessons, help address emerging policy questions, and re-energise momentum towards ecosystem restoration through community forestry.

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Discussion program on the loss of agrobiodiversity and the possible crisis

Alliance of Agriculture for Food (AAF) in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture (DoA), Centre for Crop Development and Agrobiodiversity Conservation (CCDABC), and Local Initiatives for Biodiversity, Research and Development (LiBIRD) organised a discussion program entitled “Discussion program on the loss of agrobiodiversity and the possible crisis” at DoA on 19 January 2024. In the context of the National Agrobiodiversity Day and a weeklong celebration of agrobiodiversity, as decided by the government of Nepal.

The discussion was chaired by AAF coordinator Mr Uddhav Adhikari and moderated by Dr Naya Sharma Paudel. It was aimed to have an intensive discussion among concerned policymakers and stakeholders on the upcoming environmental and food crisis caused by the loss of agrobiodiversity to raise attention to the issue. Around 50 participants involved in the field of Agrobiodiversity, including government actors, academics, civil society actors, farmers, activists, media personnel and students participated and contributed to the discussion program.

Firstly, Mr Megha Nath Timilsina (Head of CCDABC) presented the status and the Government’s efforts on Agro-biodiversity conservation. Secondly, Dr. Lila Sharma presented on wild foods and the importance of forest-based agrobiodiversity.

Major concerns/remarks presented during the discussion

• Changes in food habits and money/profit-oriented agricultural production are contributing to the loss of several local seeds and foods
• Biodiversity conservation but with economic benefits only has created some problems despite having huge potential of the rich biodiversity of hills.
• Need to use Research, education and extension to promote Agroecology. Universities are making some efforts but still struggling with limited options for widely sharing the findings and learning.
• Policies and programs are not well tailored to conserving agrobiodiversity and diverse food. Also, agriculture and education are not well connected. Despite some improvement in the existing curriculum, it is not adequate particularly to promote agriculture for food first.
• Conservation of agrobiodiversity is not prioritized by the government as much as it needed to due to the priority provided to the promotion of intensive and single cropping systems.
• Inadequate investment and efforts are given to Agriculture education and research to promote local (landraces). Most farmers are doing it by themselves.
• Policies and programs should be influenced by local learnings and also should be formulated to support local communities and practices.
• Need to promote locally produced food for daily consumption including in school meals.
• Forest-based foods should also be conserved and promoted.
• Farmers leaving farming is partly attributed to the government’s policies and programs of promoting chemical fertilizers, pesticides and hybrid seeds in the name of subsidy and to increase production.
• Inadequate research and data collection and analysis.
• To encourage the conservation and promotion of agrobiodiversity, there is a need to raise public awareness to consume local foods and diversify the varieties, provide subsidies to farmers etc.

Finally, the discussion was summed up by Mr Bharat Bhandari. Mr Uddhav Adhikari, the chair, concluded the program with a vote of thanks. Additionally, he reemphasised the need to define commercial farming and reminded us of the destruction made by monoculture and chemical-based farming practices on soil.