International Conference on Agrobiodiversity begins in Nepal

Chris Steele-Perkins Magnum Photos for FAO
Pokhara – Forest and farm producer organizations representing the world’s smallholder farmers, Indigenous Peoples and local communities are gathering in Pokhara, Nepal, this week to explore how to best manage the world’s agrobiodiversity.

Around 150 global delegates at the International Conference on Agrobiodiversity will address their common problems in maintaining agrobiodiversity while exploring innovative models to benefit members’ livelihoods.

The conference is facilitated by the Forest and Farm Facility, a partnership between the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Institute for Environment and Development, the International Union for Conservation of Nature and AgriCord. 

“Forest and farm producer organizations, who represent the collective voices of farmers and forest-dependent people, have a pivotal role in preserving agrobiodiversity, which is essential for global resilience and food security,” said Luis Miguel Aparicio, Manager of the Forest and Farm Facility. 

Importance of agrobiodiversity

Of the 7 000 plants historically cultivated for food, just three crops – rice, wheat and maize – make up over half of global plant-based calories.

Smallholder farmers, Indigenous Peoples and rural communities maintain most of the world’s remaining agrobiodiversity but face strong competition for resource rights, technical support and cost-competitiveness from large-scale industrial monocultures. 

Increased land degradation and escalating climate risks also pose significant challenges for frontline forest and farm producers. Small farms of less than 2 acres account for some 84 percent of all farms worldwide, producing roughly 35 percent of the world’s food on 12 percent of its agricultural land. 

Knowledge sharing between forest and farm producer organizations, Indigenous Peoples and rural community groups is crucial for promoting agrobiodiversity and sustainable development. 

Conference objectives

In the coming days delegates will share best practices in policy, knowledge management, seed conservation, agronomy, enterprise development and finance.

The conference will also strengthen cooperation between producer organizations and governmental institutions, the private sector, finance institutions and other stakeholders to promote agrobiodiversity within forest and farm value chains.

During the conference, participants will participate in a one-day field trip to witness first-hand how forest and farmer producer organizations are managing agrobiodiversity in Nepal.

About 35 percent of Nepal’s population is organised in community forestry and is globally recognized as a successful example of how to integrate rural livelihoods, biodiversity protection and climate resilience.

The conference is in hybrid format and can be followed online. Convened within the framework of the United Nations Decade on Family Farming (2019-2028), the conference is organized by the Forest and Farm Facility in collaboration with the Federation of Community Forest Users Nepal (FECOFUN), the Ministry of Forests and Environment of Government of Nepal, Local Initiatives for Biodiversity, Research and Development (LI-BIRD), the Agroecology Coalition and the International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity.