Through close cooperation with governments in the region, with support from a broad group of stakeholders (the Agroecology Himalaya Task Force) and assistance of local partners, IFOAM – Organics International and the World Future Council (WFC) are currently facilitating a multistakeholder process in the Himalayan Region focused on the development and implementation of a roadmap for agroecology-based food systems. This four-year endeavor is part of the Lighthouse Initiative of the Indo-German Cooperation and is financed by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), which both are core partners of this project.
Our world’s food and farming systems currently face multiple challenges ranging from natural resource depletion, climate change, chemical pollution and biodiversity loss to farmers and food workers not earning a decent income, leading to hunger, malnutrition, ill-health, migration and much more. The way we produce, process, distribute, market, consume or waste food can either alleviate or exacerbate these conditions.
"Addressing these problems requires integrated actions taken by all stakeholders at local, national, regional, and global levels, by both public and private actors, and across multiple fronts - not only in agriculture, but also in trade policy, health, environment, gender norms, education, transport and infrastructure”
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
To address the mounting challenges, we need to upscale the role of agroecology in mountain development and worldwide. Policy frameworks should go beyond the production focus and the conventional 'value adding chain' approach and pursue agroecology with a holistic food systems approach to achieve the targets foreseen by the 2030 Agenda. This is where
About the Himalayan Region
The Hindu Kush Himalayan (HKH) region spreads over an area of 3,500 kilometres. Vast areas of the Himalayan Region remain predominantly untouched by the disruptive effects of the Green Revolution and traditional agriculture still represents the main occupation.
Mountain agriculture is characterized as an integrated system shaped by the ability of man to value abundant local resources as well as their ability to adapt to hardships caused by the biophysical environment.
Agriculture in the region is largely rainfed, making it prone to the vagaries of the weather and highly vulnerable to climate variability and climate change, even more so as the region is a climate hotspot. These have an escalating adverse impact on farming-based livelihoods, with declining agricultural yields, income, and increasing risks of food and nutrition insecurity.
Currently around 50% of the region’s population faces some form of malnutrition, with women and children suffering the most. The lack of financial resources is making an adequate diet often unaffordable. However, the causes of food and nutrition insecurity in the HKH region are multifaceted and influenced by a range of factors, including - besides high poverty - also natural resource degradation, climate change, low level of market development, uncertain food support, and inadequate policy and institutional support.
Conscious of these conditions and challenges, HKH policymakers have increasingly recognized the need for strengthening sustainable food systems in line with agroecology. While a considerable political commitment has been implemented with varying degrees of intensity, there is the need for a more comprehensive, systemic vision and approach to expand agroecology-based food systems that also addresses the contradictions in public policy not enough to support or even hindering agroecology scaling up potential.
What’s our plan?
In early 2023, we engaged intensely with stakeholders in the region and wrote an extensive Roadmap Background Report (“Scaling up Agroecology in the Himalayas: Food Systems in Bhutan, India and Nepal”). Moreover, an expert group named the ‘Agroecology Himalayas Task Force’ has been established with participants from Bhutan, India, and Nepal, to leverage ongoing governmental efforts and to advance the development and start the implementation of a comprehensive Roadmap for Sustainable Food Systems for the Himalayan region. The group is open to more experts’ participation in this area.
From May 2023 until April 2027, the World Future Council and IFOAM - Organics International plan to collaborate with governments in the region closely, the Agroecology Himalaya Task Force as well as local partners, to:
- facilitate the development of a Roadmap for agroecology-based food systems by Bhutanese, Indian and Nepali stakeholders,
- organize a high-level event in 2024 at which this Roadmap is launched and presented to high-level stakeholders,
- develop a medium-term implementation strategy for key measures of the final Roadmap and facilitate the implementation of this strategy,
- offer capacity-building for stakeholders to implement key recommendations from the final Roadmap and to increase engagement in food policy processes, as well as
- convene a Stocktaking Event in 2027.
A summary about the project can be found here
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In case of questions, comments or getting involved in the process, please don’t hesitate to contact us:
Project Manager Scaling up Agroecology,
World Future Council
Global Policy Senior Manager,
IFOAM – Organics International
Global Policy Coordinator,
IFOAM – Organics International