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On the occasion of International Mountain Day 2014, the Chinese Committee on International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (CNICIMOD) organized a symposium titled ‘Development Strategies of Mountain Development in the Himalayan Region’ in Chengdu, Sichuan province, China on 10—12 December 2014. Around 30 experts from ICIMOD and domestic research institutes and universities attended the symposium. The event created a platform for sharing research on mountain development in the Himalayan region, summarizing the previous year’s work and developing a work plan for future.
Participants gave presentations on regional programmes developed in China, such as the Himalayan Climate Change Adaptation Programme (HICAP) and Koshi River Basin Programme (KBP). Presentations were followed by interesting and fruitful discussions. Prof. Deng Wei presented a report on the development of science and cooperation in South Asia, with a focus on China’s ‘one belt one road’ initiative.
The 2014 annual meeting of CNICIMOD was also held during the symposium. Representatives from the Bureau of International Cooperation of National Natural Science Foundation of China, Bureau of International Cooperation of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, ICIMOD and members of CNICIMOD attended the meeting. To raise awareness about family farming in the mountains and its longstanding role in sustainable development, CNICIMOD displayed nearly 30 posters and distributed publications on mountain hazard management, climate change and mountain development.
As part of International Mountain Day celebrations, Eco Concept, with support from ICIMOD, organized a community learning programme from 9—11 December 2014 in Ri-bhoi , Meghalaya and Langkhar, Assam. The event was focused on the theme for 2014, i.e., mountain farming and its myriad dimensions.Twelve selected students and teachers from three different schools in Guwahati, namely, Maria’s Public school, Royal Global School and Parijat Academy participated in the three-day event. Students learned about mountain communities, their farming practices, traditional knowledge and sustainable ways of living, as well as about the changing paradigms, market linkages, challenges and opportunities in the mountain region.
In Shan State of Myanmar, International Mountain Day celebrations were held at the meeting hall of the Forest Department in Taunggyi Township. A total of 296 participants from the Forest Department, Department of Education, Municipal Department, civil society organizations, local ethnic and cultural organizations, academia, schools, media and NGOs attended the event.
During the ceremony, the State Minister for Municipality and the Director of Forest Department in Shan State said that International Mountain Day provided a good opportunity to promote the conservation of mountain ecosystems and explore ways to secure the livelihoods of mountain people. The retired Pro-Rector of the University of Forestry discussed the state of mountain development in other regions and states of Myanmar. The officials from the Forest Department shared their publications, as well as videos, photos, and posters on their watershed conservation work in Shan State.
Two civil society groups called ‘Love the World’ and ‘Cherry Lovers’ performed songs about mountain environment. The event also featured video screenings and poster and photo displays related to mountain development. A signboard has also been placed at a key location in the area to raise public awareness about mountains.
ICIMOD and its partners participated in the Mountain Festival 2014 organized by the Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA) at the International Mountain Museum (IMM) in Pokhara from 10—12 December 2014. The festival was inaugurated by the prime minister of Nepal, Sushil Koirala.
During the event, ICIMOD conducted hands-on training on how to make bio-briquette using water hyacinth, pine needles and banmara (Eupatorium adhenophorum). More than 80 people received the training, which was among the highlights of the event. ICIMOD also showcased technologies for improving mountain livelihoods, and products such as kiwis, ground apples, shitake mushrooms. The Director General’s message was shared with the participants, while a photo exhibition on ‘Family Farming’ and an information booth to display relevant publications and posters helped raised awareness about the issue. Researchers, local people, students, and tourists from different countries visited the ICIMOD stall. More than 5,000 people attended the three-day event.
ICIMOD participated in the Kathmandu International Mountain Film Festival (KIMFF) from 11 to 15 December 2014 in Kathmandu, Nepal. During the festival, ICIMOD presented the Best ICIMOD Mountain Film award to ‘Sunkali’ by Bhoj Raj Bhat. The award consisted of a cash prize of USD 1,000 and a certificate. The film documents the rise of a women’s football team in Mugu, a remote district in Karnali zone. Sunkali is passionate about football. She and her friends gather and practice football on the pretext of collecting fodder. They get an opportunity to represent their school in the district level football tournament. Although defeated in the first tournament by team Humla, they go on to win the national tournament in the Tarai plains. The film was selected for the award as it contains an inspirational message for young women in the remote mountain villages of Nepal, and as it captures the cultural life and the beautiful landscape of the Nepal Himalayas. The award was set up in 2013 to support filmmakers from ICIMOD’s member countries who are working to raise awareness about issues related to sustainable mountain development in the Hindu Kush Himalayan region.
In partnership with Development Communications Network (Devcom), Pakistan and six other organizations, ICIMOD-Pakistan celebrated the fourth Pakistan Mountain Festival from 7—14 December 2014 in Islamabad, Pakistan. The weeklong event comprised various activities, such as a seminar on mountain farming, a ‘clean mountain’ awareness walk, art competition, cultural and educational shows. Over two dozens of people, including students, participated in the event and learned about how mountain family farming in Pakistan changing as a result of rapid population growth, globalization, urbanization, and out migration. The highlight of the event was a seminar titled ‘The challenges confronting mountains and its people’. Representatives from ICIMOD’s partner organizations, Pakistan Agricultural Research Council and Arid Agriculture University, Rawalpindi, made presentations on enhancing mountain livelihoods through value chain development, the importance of the mountain family farming and the challenges faced by the mountain people, particularly those related to climate change.
On the occasion of International Mountain Day (11 December 2014), Bhutan Media and Communication Institute (BMCI) organized a daylong ‘Farmers’ Seminar’ in collaboration with Happy Green Cooperative in Thimphu, with financial support from ICIMOD. The seminar brought together farmers from Punakha and Thimphu, the
HIMALICA project team from Tsirang, and officials from the Ministry of Agriculture, the Business Opportunity and Information Centre (BoIC), and Bhutan Development Bank Limited (BDBL) to discuss and find ways to improve mountain farming in Bhutan. Posters on family farming prepared by ICIMOD and FAO were also exhibited during the event.
Speakers at the event stressed that International Mountain Day is an important day for Bhutan, a mountainous country with 70 percent of the population dependent on agriculture. Ap Kado from Punakha district, chairperson of a milk committee, recalled how he established the milk committee with 30 percent subsidy from the government. He now runs a thriving milk enterprise, setting an example for farming enterprise communities. However, he said that availability of viable market remains a problem for his enterprise, a point that was highlighted by other farmers as well. If they could obtain facilities to preserve their milk like India’s Amul Taaza and Duyul , then they would be able to sell at any time as per the demand.
Participants discussed market opportunities and the scope for organic farming. Some of the farmers shared their experiences in cooperative farming, after which others expressed interest in starting similar initiatives.
Kelzang Tshomo from the Department of Agriculture gave the farmers a briefing on soil management. She urged them not to use chemical fertilizers which erode the soil nutrients, and encouraged them to use only organic manure and fertilizers to maintain healthy and productive soil. Yeshey, chairperson of the Youth Cooperative Farming in Paro, recounted how he started the initiative. “Our youth today lacks interest in agriculture and farming knowledge,” he lamented. “They all want jobs in urban areas. Cities like Thimphu have therefore become overpopulated, and our government faces a major challenge of tackling this problem.” He said he set up a farming cooperative mainly to encourage and inspire the youth to engage in agricultural farming.
Participants thanked ICIMOD for providing such an important platform for sharing their ideas and experiences, and for clearing some of their doubts.
Representatives of the HIMALICA team, BDBL , BoIC and the Ministry of Agriculture also made presentations on their respective organizations and activities that were of relevance to the farmers. They said that the seminar helped them better understand the farmer’s issues and challenges. The informal setting of the seminar allowed the participants to talk openly, and they said they appreciated this format more than the formal stakeholder gatherings held in their villages.
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