SciDev.Net interviews Bioversity International's Nepal-based Devendra Gauchan, agriculture economist and project manager, about the latest achievements from the ‘Integrating Traditional Crop Genetic Diversity for Mountain Food Security' project which takes great pride in close collaboration with Nepalese farmers.
"Scientists at the ‘Integrating Traditional Crop Genetic Diversity for Mountain Food Security' project are currently conducting research on policy gaps for agriculture biodiversity and looking at developing a varietal blend of Jumli Marsi, a preferred, heartier variety, and Chandannath 1, a fungus-resistant variety that originates in China.
But, there are difficulties. “At the policy level, there are no provisions for mixing. We have yet to debate whether in order to register a varietal blend, we ought to register the blend, the parent varieties, or register the technology. We need to create a provision for it,” says Bal Krishna Joshi, senior scientist and plant breeder at the National Agriculture Genetic Resources Centre (Genebank) in Kathmandu, Nepal.
With policy gaps that hinder innovation and marginalise indigenous seeds, Nepal’s experts are calling for a new approach. And seed farmers like Bishnu Bahadur Rawal are looking for assurance on farmers’ basic rights and an informed agriculture policy.
Nepal’s new Agriculture Development Strategy, implemented since January 2016, addresses farmers’ rights and seed sovereignty, though it omits minor, underutilised crops. The National Agro-biodiversity Policy, revised in 2014, has a conservation focus and discusses the conservation of underutilised species.
“The government has to prioritise conservation of neglected and underutilised crops in terms of research, investment and preparation of an institutional framework that covers human resources and educational materials,” Devendra Gauchan, agriculture economist and project manager at the Nepal office of Bioversity International, tells SciDev.Net."
Read the original blog post Nepali farmers fight to save indigenous seeds