Forum Origin, Diversity and Territories focuses on agroecology and self-certification mechanisms in mountains


The 7th edition of the Forum Origin, Diversity and Territories (ODT 2019), held from 4 to 6 December in Lausanne, Switzerland, explored the theme of “Agroecology: Multiple Transitions of Territories”.

The Forum ODT 2019 was co-organized by the Mountain Partnership.

In six workshops, a diverse group of stakeholders shared their practices and knowledge on the interactions between cultural and biological diversities, dynamics of territories and the products of which quality is linked to the origin. Each workshop examined a different perspective on agroecology.

Two authors of an upcoming Mountain Partnership publication on mapping best agroecological and organic practices in mountain areas presented their case studies at the forum.

Asan Alymkulov from the Federation of Organic Development Bio-KG (FOD Bio-KG) presented his work with organic aymaks in Kyrgyzstan. Organic aymaks are groups of farmers in mountainous regions who agree to communally develop their land using organic agrotechnologies and traditional knowledge.  

“The demand for organic products is growing,” says Alymkulov. “Since 2014, the number of Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) certified farmers has increased from 120 to 898.”

Alisa Rai from The Mountain Institute shared her work on promoting medicinal and aromatic plants in the Nepali Himalaya. Her work is in developing a cultivation training of these plants that uses nature-based solutions instead of traditional wild harvesting, which is unsustainable yet accounts for between 10 to 50 percent of rural households’ income.

The Mountain Partnership Secretariat (MPS) presented the Mountain Partnership Products (MPP) initiative and its next steps, in addition to presenting the mountain-specific PGS network. The PGS network is designed to allow small-scale mountain farmers to certify organic products through an interactive, community-based approach. It presents an alternative to the conventional and expensive third-party certification.

“Call it green, organic or agroecological - mountain farming systems meet these criteria by default because of their remoteness and harsh environment. The MPP initiative aims to promote traditional products and bringing unique products to national markets,” says Michelle Geringer from the MPS. 

It is common for producers to rely upon external product certification due to lack of tools to certify themselves. The MPP PGS aims to help small-scale mountain producers to overcome this challenge. Certification schemes that promote agroecological products from specific territories like mountain areas have great potential in mainstream markets; these products stand out because they communicate a unique message. Certification is the first step for producers to promote their products and upscale their operations, and self-certification is ideal for small-scale mountain producers.

News and photo from Michelle Geringer

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