Kerala

Study flags need to protect agrobiodiversity

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It will help sustain livelihoods, ensure food security and adapt to climate change

A study by the Centre for Development Studies (CDS) has called for steps for the protection and effective management of agrobiodiversity in the State to sustain livelihoods, ensure food security and adapt to climate change.

The study 'Institutional support for management of agrobiodiversity in Kerala,' authored by CDS director Sunil Mani; S.M. Mohankumar and T. Abhilash of CDS; and V. Santhakumar of Azim Premji University, Bangalore; was funded by UN FAO India. (Agrobiodiversity, or agricultural biodiversity, defines the wealth of flora and fauna and genetic diversity of agricultural land and waterscape of a given region.)

The study stresses the need to strengthen the Kerala State Biodiversity Board (KSBB) and forge close ties between it and premier agriculture-sector research institutions. It emphasises the role of government-run research institutes in developing knowledge on agrobiodiversity. At present, research institutes in the State focusing on this area operate in ‘‘vacuum, often doing research without any coordination with the KSBB,” the study found.

“'This coordination can be achieved by linking these institutes to the KSBB so that an annual research plan can be made and a consortium be formed to develop the requisite knowledge,” it said.

Additionally, the KSBB had to be strengthened financially and with respect to human resources so that it could play the coordinating role effectively. The role of the KSBB at the district level also required special attention, the study noted.

A key recommendation in the study concerns the Biodiversity Management Committees (BMC) and the People's Biodiversity Registers (PBR) — an inventory of local biodiversity — prepared at the panchayat level. Kerala tops the national list for PBR with 94.19% coverage as of July 11, 2019, according to the National Biodiversity Authority.

But there is a reality beyond the statistics, says the CDS study. “Most of the BMCs have been dysfunctional, and PBRs once framed are never updated,” the report found.

“The PBR concept is sound. But they need to be updated on a regular basis. Also, the PBRs need to be digitised so that the inventory can be updated easily,” Sunil Mani told The Hindu. The CDS team evaluated the BMC/PBR activities in the Kanjikkuzhi, Eraviperoor, Meenangady and Marancherry panchayats for its study.

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Printable version | Dec 10, 2019 5:47:00 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/study-flags-need-to-protect-agrobiodiversity/article29954472.ece

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