Andhra Pradesh

Using simple methods to preserve biodiversity


It cannot get simpler than this. A mud pot covered with cow dung serves as a means to preserve traditional seed varieties. Families and communities such as ‘Sunamani Paraja’ from Koraput district, Odisha use these kinds of simple methods to become “custodian farmers” or conservation champions in their community.

“Custodian farmers” are ordinary farming community members, who have knowledge and access to diverse seeds and resources and help conserve biodiversity in their region. Sixteen farmers from across India — Kolli Hills, Jawadhu Hills, Nainital and Koraput — presented simple means by which knowledge transmitted across generations had been preserved.

Mr. Natesan from Kolli Hills said: “Millets are traditionally used in our social rituals from the times of our grandfathers. This helped reinforce the habit of eating millets, keeping us healthy and also motivating us to grow these crops.”

The farmers were speaking at a two-day update on “Experiences of Rural Poor Communities and their On-farm conservation Efforts,” held at MSSRF in Chennai.

The project, coordinated by Bioversity International, Italy, and funded by International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD), looks at placing more emphasis on neglected and under-utilised species through on-farm conservation efforts. The event was attended by NGOs, farmers, students and researchers working on the subject. Experts called for the need for labelling products as “conserved” on-farm to provide recognition for the efforts of traditional agriculture communities and for a national body to certify the ecological significance of these products. There was a suggestion to move towards “biofortification” or the enhancement of nutritive value of a particular crop through natural occurrence, purposeful selection or genetic modification dependent on appropriate approvals. This would help increase the nutritional status and move towards ‘Zero Hunger.’

Prof M.S. Swaminathan in his address said: “Protect, encourage and reward these custodians. Women especially have a major role to play in preserving biodiversity.” He suggested the inclusion of millets in the mid-day meal programme as it made sense from the point of view of nutrition as well as climate resilience for food production.

Dr. Stefano Padulosi, Global Co-ordinator from Bioversity International, , emphasised the need for strong policy advocacy at the national level to promote these crops. This thought was echoed by the students also.

“Custodian farmers” are conservation champions of their community

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Printable version | Nov 22, 2019 12:25:00 PM |

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