Press release by International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD).
A three-day regional conference on mountain agriculture aimed at drawing out key lessons for uptake across the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH) concluded in Kathmandu on August 11.
Hosted by the Ministry of Agricultural Development (MoAD), Nepal and the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), the conference brought more than 60 participants—government officials from the agriculture sector, agri-extensionists, agriculture scientists, and farmers—to discuss ideas for strengthening mountain agriculture, options for diversifying rural livelihoods, and opportunities for engaging mountain youth.
Minister of Agricultural Development Ram Krishna Yadav welcomed the participants and said “ICIMOD, through its European Union-funded Himalica initiative, has supported the Government of Nepal in terms of action research on agri-extension, formulation of the National Adaptation Plan (NAP), and promotion of climate resilient agricultural technologies and practices through its European Union-funded Support to Rural Livelihoods and Climate Change Adaptation in the Himalaya (Himalica) initiative.”
Addressing the gathering, Director General of ICIMOD David Molden said, “Some new findings coming out of ICIMOD’s work in the region, especially on indigenous beekeeping and pollination, and agri-extension services, have implications for mountain agriculture development in the region.” He called on all to deliberate on these findings and findings from other initiatives in the region to draw out lessons for influencing policy and practice.
Andrea Roettger, Head of Cooperation of the European Union in Nepal, noted that the EU’s new Consensus on Development ‘Our World, Our Dignity, Our Future’ emphasises sustainable agriculture as a key driver for poverty eradication and socio-economic progress in South Asia. He said, “Regional projects, such as the EU funded Himalica pilot initiative, can and should inspire policy measures and be scaled up for the benefit of economically, socially and environmentally sustainable and inclusive development in the region.”
Over the next three days, the participants shared their current knowledge on the challenges and opportunities related to promoting bee pollination, strengthening horticultural development, improving agri-extension services, and marketing niche mountain products, and discussed the way forward.
They came out with a set of practical points for consideration by HKH countries. Promoting underutilized and neglected mountain crops and harnessing pollination services to enhance horticultural productivity should be focus areas for countries in the region. Building the capacities of farmers’ groups, especially of women farmers, and technical personnel is also crucial. Strengthening links between universities, research institutes, and technical departments to ensure regular knowledge flow and the availability of courses on ‘mountain agriculture’, and technical updating can further aid agricultural development in the mountains. Strong partnerships with the private sector to strengthen market linkages can prove particularly fruitful.
The participants also stressed on the need to network with regional entities such as Agri-Extension South Asia (AESA) and the Himalayan University Consortium (HUC) to contribute toward achieving Sustainable Development outcomes and sustainable mountain development.