Highlighting indigenous mountain food systems


Discussing what is needed to maintain indigenous food systems in mountain areas was the primary focus of a session held during the High-Level Expert Seminar on Indigenous Food Systems. The seminar was hosted by the Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome, Italy from 7-9 November 2018.

 The Mountain Partnership Secretariat Coordinator, Yuka Makino, moderated the session on “Indigenous mountain food systems,” which included presentations from Mountain Partnership members Ghanshyam Pande, from the Central Himalayan Institute for Nature (CHINAR), Kalyan Kumar Paul from the Pan Himalayan Grassroots Development Foundation, and Anna Kanshieva from Slow Food International (Russia)

The session opened by Ghanshyam Pande, Program coordinator of CHINAR discussing the Agro-biodiverse cropping and traditional nomadic gathering system of Bhotia and the Anwal peoples in the Himalayas, India. He also emphasized the importance of integrating traditional knowledge when it comes to educating youth. “We must focus on developing the capacity of youth and integrate traditional knowledge into the school syllabus,” said Pande. 

Kalyan Kumar Paul from the Pan Himalayan Grassroots Development Foundation then presented on the Agro-horticultural and livestock small-scale system of the Kumaoni people in Himalaya, India. Paul stressed upon the environmental degradation and climate change and its effects on mountain farming systems specifically in India.

Lastly, Anna Kanshieva from Slow Food discussed the Mountain Partnership Products (MPP) initiative. The elaboration of the MP narrative label and analysis of value chains was discussed. “Although indigenous mountain people are custodians of local biodiversity and traditional knowledge – they are also the most food insecure and vulnerable to climate change,” said Kanshieva when discussing the key role of the MPP initiative and the way forward. The initiative is now in its second phase and is currently focusing on strengthening value chains and the promotion of products.

Recommendations from the panel included the implementation of traditional knowledge in the education system, the need of community organization in mountain regions in order to overcome limited production and ensure product quality and the importance of the narrative label in improving the agriculture value-chain. Lastly, the development of a mountain product specific marketing strategy and the importance of conserving forests in mountains – as they are the foundation of food systems in mountains was highlighted.

The High-Level Expert Seminar on Indigenous Food systems was co-organized by FAO, UNESCO, UNPFII, FILAC and DOCIP. The seminar presented topics such as indigenous peoples’ food systems from different parts of the world, the global debate on sustainability and climate resilience in the context of the 2030 Agenda and the United Nations Decade of Action of Nutrition.

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Photo by ©FAO/Alessia Pierdomenico

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