By: Devendra Gauchan
The alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT jointly with the Nepal Agricultural Research Council (NARC) and Local Initiatives for Biodiversity Research and Development (LI-BIRD) organized a national level sharing workshop on February 24, 2020 in Kathmandu as a part of output sharing of UNEP GEF project “Integrating Traditional Crop Genetic Diversity into Technology: Using a Biodiversity Portfolio Approach to Buffer against Unpredictable Environmental Change in the Nepal Himalayas”. Major goal of the project was to contribute to the conservation of globally important crop biodiversity for food and nutrition security and improving ecosystem services in Nepal Himalayas. The workshop was chaired by Executive Director of NARC with special invitees of the high level government officials (Joint Secretaries) of the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development (MoALD) and other key stakeholders participated by a total of 80 participants. The main objective of the national sharing workshop was to share achievements made by the project in the last five and half years (2014-2019) and use this platform to mainstream good practices, technologies and diversity rich solutions identified. The workshop was participated by key stakeholders including policy makers, farmers, private sectors, civil societies, researchers and development professionals. Dr. Krishna Kumar Mishra, Chief of the National Genetic Resources Centre (NAGRC), NARC welcomed the participants and the session was facilitated by Krishna Hari Ghimire, NAGRC, NARC. The first session of the workshop was dedicated to share project’s highlights composed of three separate thematic presentations. Project team leaders from NARC (Dr. Bal Krishna Joshi) shared over all technological achievements with good practices developed, team leader from LI-BIRD (Mr. Niranjan Pudasaini) shared site level highlighting achievements and, project Manager form Bioversity International (Dr. Devendra Gauchan) shared policy level achievements with output level synthesis of the entire project. In general, presenters shared key achievements of the project focusing on good practices and approaches developed and strategies adopted during the project period (2014-2019) to mainstream them in the programs and polices of local, provincial and central governments.
More than dozen posters, books and other larger number of publications (research papers, flyers, briefs) of the project activities and progress highlights were also displayed and shared to the participating stakeholders physically as well as through a project Video (https://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=918hsD4w-Zs) and project website (www.himalayancrops.org). A newly developed good practices book including books of farmers variety catalogue and other publications of the project were officially released for wider dissemination to key stakeholders (Photo 1).
Photo 1: NARC Executive Director (right) releasing good practices book with Joint Secretary (left) of MoALD
During the workshop, a special farmers’ session was also organized for farmers to present their views and submit their local variety registration proposals to governmental official. With the technical support of the project and recommendation of local government of each project site, farmers’ representatives from each of the four project sites submitted their local varieties of the traditional mountain crops to chief of Seed Quality Control Center (SQCC) / Secretary of National Seed Board for official registration (Photo 2). The formal submission of proposals of these crop varieties in this event for official registration among the presence of key stakeholders has helped in raising awareness and value of traditional crops. This also gave the platform for farmers to articulate their views and emphasis the need of locally adapted varieties of traditional mountain crops for mainstreaming in national policies and programs through the process of official registration and listing.
Photo 2. Leader farmer from Jumla with Chief of SQCC for sharing farmer’s variety registration proposals
Reflections from Key Stakeholders
Director General (DG) of Department Agriculture (DoA), Ms Niru Dahal (Photo 3; left photo) in her official remarks appreciated the progress made by the project despite some recent structural changes in the country with the adoption of federal system. She recommends that project team can synthesize the outcomes of the workshop in local Nepali language to further work on scaling up and mainstreaming in the government programs.
Photo 3. Ms. Niru Dahal, Director General, DoA sharing her views
Mr. Madan Thapa, Chief of SQCC (Photo 4) appreciated the efforts and achievements made by the project. He especially congratulated to project team and respective farming communities for being able to identify, select and submit the proposals for registration of six locally preferred varieties of least prioritized traditional crops. As a secretary of National Seed Board, he informed that he will move forward these proposals for the process of official registration, which is a first step towards mainstreaming and commercialization of the crop varieties.
Photo 4. Mr. Madan Thapa Chief of SQCC sharing his views during closing session
Similarly, Dr. Balaram Thapa, Executive Director, LI-BIRD appreciated the good outputs made by the project and emphasized that the good practices and outcomes of the project should be further scaled up in local, provincial and federal government programs. He suggested that this can be done by developing national pride project for the government of Nepal for sustainable agriculture development.
Finally, in closing remarks, the chair of the workshop session Dr. Deepak Bhandari, Executive Director of NARC appreciated the project team for making very good contribution in developing technologies and good practices and making publications out of these. He believed that the project has developed foundation for promoting and mainstreaming traditional crops in Nepal. In this context, he emphasized to launch national pride project focusing on agricultural development for food and nutrition security using concepts and approaches developed by the project. He also added that NARC is happy to collaborate with key stakeholders and government of Nepal in this process.
The workshop also had an open session for the participants to observe seed diversity display exhibited by project site community seed banks, value added local food products from local entrepreneur and newly developed model prosomillet thresher (dehusker). Exhibition stalls were complemented with various knowledge products developed under the project by the project team. The knowledge products display was consisted of over dozens flyers, posters, books, research papers, project briefs, f and success story book. Participants were happy to see, observe and receive free copies of various publications of the project activities and outcomes and also able to buy organic healthy and nutritious value added products of nutrient dense traditional crops of the farmers from the project sites. A short project video clip covering major achievements, diverse aspects of the project initiatives and remarks from key personals was also displayed.
This short news brief is the output of Local Crop Project funded by the Global Environment Facility through United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and jointly executed by the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT, Nepal Agriculture Research Council (NARC), the Department of Agriculture (DoA)) and Local Initiatives for Biodiversity, Research and Development (LI-BIRD) in Nepal.