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19 Dec 2019 | News

Promoting local food systems and food-based value chain in the Far-Eastern Himalayan Landscape

As part of efforts led by the Landscape Initiative for Far-Eastern Himalayas (HI-LIFE) to promote regional cooperation among China, India, and Myanmar, a two-day workshop on promoting local food systems and food-based value chain was held in Nuang Shwe, Inle, Myanmar, on 19–20 September 2019. The workshop was jointly organized by ICIMOD; the Forest Department, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation (FD-MoNREC), Government of Myanmar; and the Myanmar Institute for Integrated Development (MIID). HI-LIFE is a regional conservation and development initiative jointly implemented by ICIMOD and its partners in China, India, and Myanmar in the Far-Eastern Himalayan Landscape.

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Workshop participants focused on developing a transdisciplinary research protocol around food-based value chains and agro-diversity conservation for China, India, and Myanmar. (Photo: ICIMOD)

The workshop involved 30 participants (including 10 women) from government bodies, academia, I/NGOs, the private sector, and communities representing the three HI-LIFE country partners. It focused on developing a transdisciplinary research protocol for the landscape around food-based value chains and agro-diversity conservation. Participants also prepared a draft framework for a food-based value chain framework to ensure better economic returns. Participants also embarked on a field trip to Let Moung Gway Village – a pilot site of ICIMOD’s Himalica project – and to a floating tomato cultivation site at Inle Lake.

Day one of the workshop introduced key concepts related to mountain agriculture, such as ecosystem services, organic agriculture, sustainability, pro-poor value chain, ethnobotany, and nutrition smart agriculture. Ghanashyam Sharma from The Mountain Institute, Sikkim, India, highlighted the diversity of ecosystem services derived from mountain agriculture, prospects of organic farming in Sikkim, and concerns about the loss of crop and livestock genetic resources. Fu Yao from Kunming Institute of Botany, China, talked about the transformation in the mountains and whether policy, technology, and market-driven innovations are adequate to promote ecological civilization in China. Daw Khaing Khaing Htwe from the Department of Agricultural Research, Myanmar, spoke about making mountain agriculture nutrition-smart and economically smart for local farming communities.

ICIMOD shared the results of a study on the sustainability of mountain agricultural systems and an ethnobotanical survey. These highlighted the richness of agrodiversity and the opportunities for conservation and sustainable management in the Far-Eastern Himalayan Landscape. ICIMOD also presented an approach for developing pro-poor, climate-resilient value chains.

A field visit on day two brought in experience from the ground. During the field trip, participants interacted with community members in Let Moung Gway Village, learning how a ginger value chain was building the community’s skills, capacities, and engagement for agribusiness and farm management in a water-scarce area. Following the field visit, participants worked in two groups to define a harmonized protocol for regional research on crop diversity and to develop a harmonized regional protocol and a framework for a crop-based value chain to be implemented in the Far-Eastern Himalayan Landscape.

Participants on their way to Let Maung Gway Village, where they observed how the community has developed value chains, expanded agribusiness, and managed water resources for farming (Photo: Bandana Shakya/ICIMOD)
Participants on their way to Let Maung Gway Village, where they observed how the community has developed value chains, expanded agribusiness, and managed water resources for farming (Photo: Bandana Shakya/ICIMOD)


The workshop concluded with the consensus that ICIMOD would continue to support its partners in the three HI-LIFE countries to design and implement a knowledge-driven, pro-poor, climate-resilient value chain. This value chain will help the government and farming communities in the three countries – together with other partners – collectively conserve the rich agrodiversity resource in the area and promote agribusinesses of high-demand crops such as walnut, grapefruit, pepper, tsagao, tomato, bamboo, and some medicinal herbs.

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