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AGROECOLOGY EUROPE FORUM 2023

The 2023 Agroecology Europe Forum is a 3-day in-person event convening 200-300 people from all over Europe for dynamic and interactive dialogues around key European policy issues. Stakeholders and representatives of the agroecological community—farmers, growers, and ranchers, peasants, researchers, social movements, non-governmental organizations, and European policy makers—meet to discuss the most pressing challenges and present solutions for today’s agricultural and food systems.

By bringing together a variety of stakeholders from various movements and territories, we create synergies that set an exemplary model for facilitating the agroecological transition in Europe while acknowledging the global reach of the movement. Local solutions supported by targeted policies, tailored to diverse climatic, socio-economic, and cultural contexts can cultivate a climate-resilient, biodiverse Europe with environmental and social justice at its heart.

Converging movements for resilient food systems” means promoting dialogue between degrowth, agroecology, and climate and social justice movements, focusing on how each endeavour can strengthen and complement each other in completing different pieces of the puzzle of a regenerative future. Co-organized by the Hungarian Agroecology Network Association in Gyöngyös, Hungary, this year’s Agroecology Europe Forum shines a light to the agroecological richness of the Central Eastern European region and creates stronger alliances between the different actors involved in the science, practice, and movement arms of agroecology in a more rural context. Read more about the venue here.

The Hungarian Agroecology Network is a multistakeholder, transdisciplinary, and intergenerational network that aims to connect and strengthen those working with agroecology and serve as a meeting point, a knowledge-producing and -sharing community, and an advocacy organization. The long-term goal of the Network is to promote a national and international agroecological transformation of practices and policies and the implementation of food sovereignty through joint work and movement building, and to work together to create a socially, economically, and naturally sustainable agricultural production, processing, and distribution system in Hungary and beyond.

With a rich and inspiring agenda, the 2023 Forum will focus on:

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Diversity in foxtail millet (Photo: BK Joshi)

Nepal Genebank on Occasion of International Year of Millets 2023

By Bal Krishna Joshi, National Genebank, NARC, Khumaltar, Kathmandu, Nepal. Email: joshibalak@yahoo.com

Background

Millets are group of small-seeded grasses, widely grown around the world for its grains, and the straw for fodder and human food. They are grown at 60 to 3,650 m altitude in all 77 districts of Nepal. Millets are produced organically without pesticides, with zero or low inputs in marginalized lands. They are for food, feed, nutrition, health, business and environment. Millets are there when others are not, and provide foods when other harvests fail. Millets are ancient crops and, therefore, have broad genetic base and zero environmental shock. Due to high genetic diversity created in situ, they are resilient to climate changes, stresses and other factors. Millets are lectin and gluten free, and are considered as climate smart crops, super food, nutrition dense (nutri-cereals), health benefitting crops (with high health index), hardy crop (with buffering capacity), C4 plants, with low glycemic index, emergency crops, and so on. They are very easy to grow with low care. Their seed storability period is also very high. Because of these multiple benefits, these crops, though globally neglected, need to receive a special focus by all the relevant stakeholders.

National (Nepal) Genebank works for ensuring the sustainability of genetic diversity of all the agricultural genetic resources, including millets. Due attention has been given to native and endangered crops and landraces. Millets in Nepal are neglected and underutilized. Year 2023 is declared as an International Year of Millets (IYM) by United Nations. Therefore, National Genebank has planned many actions dedicated to millets for its conservation and sustainable utilization.

Millets statistics in Nepal

1. Number of domesticated millet species 12
2. Number of wild relative species of millets 9
3. Number of millets landraces 1,100
4. Total cultivated area, ha (2022) 265,401 ha
5. Total production and productivity, t, t/ha (2022) 326443 and 1.23 t/ha
6. Total import kg (2022), (1.18% of total cereal import) 2,02,99,438 kg (NPR 70,59,66,300)
7. Release and registered verities, n 8 (Finger: 6, Foxtail: 1, Proso: 1)
8. Millets growing districts, n 77 (all districts)
9. Millets cultivation altitude masl 60-3,700 masl
10. Millets accessions in Nepal Genebank, n 1,280
11. Nepalese millets accessions in foreign genebanks, n 1,107
12. Common millets Finger, Foxtail, Proso, Sorghum

Diversity

Diversity exists at species, landrace, genotype and allele levels in Nepal. 12 domesticated millet species have been reported from Nepal. They are Bristly foxtail millet, Browntop millet, Finger millet, Foxtail millet, Japanese barnyard millet, Job's tear millet, Kodo millet, Little millet, Nepalese barnyard millet, Pearl millet, Proso millet and Sorghum. Wild relatives of these species are Awnless barnyard grass, Barnyard grass, Crowfoot grass, Goose grass (wild finger millet), Johnson grass, Wild pearl millet, Oriental fountain grass, Wild foxtail millet, Garden bristle-grass, Wild proso millet, Blue panic grass and Wild sorghum. About 1,100 landraces of millets are estimated in the country. Diversity of millets is higher in high hills, particularly in Karnali province. 50% of millets diversity hase lost. Nepalese millets are conserved at National and International Genebanks.

Major Issues

Millet crops have been neglected, leading to a loss of genetic diversity as they are replaced by more dominant crops like rice, maize, and wheat. Despite being touted as the future smart crop, millets are already a smart choice in the present and will continue to be in the future. Unfortunately, only a few millet species are widely utilized, and some organizations promote non-evolutionary genotypes alongside chemical inputs, increasing farmer dependency on external providers and replacing well-adapted landraces. The health, livestock, and environmental benefits of millets are often overlooked, and it is important to estimate their impact on health. However, millet cultivation requires labor-intensive activities like transplanting, weeding, harvesting, and threshing. Traditional millet recipes are not appealing to children and young people, but efforts should be made to develop new recipes. Millet-based beverages, while popular, still face hurdles in terms of legalization for branding and marketing purposes.

Actions

Minor cereal crops (MCC) committee formed in the leadership of National Genebank has worked on short-term and long-term R&D on minor cereals. This committee has also worked on action plans to promote and conserve millet species on the occasion of IYM-2023. Some action plans are:

Diversity in proso millet (Photo: BK Joshi)
IPROMO 2023 Summer School

IPROMO 2023 Summer School
Youth and the future of Mountain Forests

The sustainable management of mountain areas is crucial to protect mountain ecosystems and ensure that they continue to support our life with the essential goods and services provided. The youth and children of today will be the stewards of the planet tomorrow. For the first time, this IPROMO course is targeting exclusively young practitioners under 35, mainly from developing countries. The participants will be asked to contribute to promoting awareness about the challenges faced by mountains and to engage in supporting the mountain agenda globally.

The relevance of mountains has been recently confirmed by the decision of the United Nations General Assembly to declare 2022 as the International Year of Sustainable Mountain Development (IYM2022). Moreover, 2021 marked the first year of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, reiterating the importance of preventing, halting, and reversing the degradation of ecosystems worldwide.

This year will also mark the sixteenth annual IPROMO course. Since then, more than 500 people from all over the world have been trained and have shared their knowledge. Since 2021, a parallel IPROMO course in Spanish is held in Latin America. This year's course will focus on three main topics: a) understanding the sustainable management of mountain forests, b) identifying specific policies that can support sustainable mountain forest management, c) and understanding how to involve youth in the effort better. Mountains and their resources are critical for a healthy planet. Mountains provide freshwater to more than half of humanity, host about half of the world's biodiversity hotspots, provide habitat to 25 percent of terrestrial biodiversity and distinctive human communities, and are widely covered by forests (about 40 percent of the entire mountain area).

The role of mountains as a refuge and reservoir for biodiversity is expected to increase as lowland species migrate to cooler highlands in response to rising global temperatures. This could pose a threat to flora and fauna in mountain areas, but at the same time, mountains will be vital to support lowland species' survival. Mountain landscapes are increasingly exposed to hazards such as floods, accelerated soil erosion, landslides, avalanches, wildfires and are subject to land-use conversion and the unsustainable use of resources. These multifaceted challenges threaten the integrity of mountain landscapes and the resilience of their biodiversity as well as the livelihoods of mountain communities. The loss of ecosystem integrity often means increasing poverty and hunger for mountain peoples who are already amongst the world's poorest and food insecure. Furthermore, as resources become scarce, resource-use conflicts arise, forcing many communities to migrate elsewhere, often with severe negative implications for their social fabric, such as their traditional knowledge, cultures, and languages.

IPROMO is a training programme promoted in the framework of the Mountain Partnership and meant to be a contribution to better understanding the challenges faced by mountain ecosystems and mountain peoples and to catalyze action towards the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in mountains as well as the 2023-2027 Five Years of Action for the Development of the Mountain Regions.

For more information, please browse the link:

International Year of Sustainable Mountain Development 2022

The United Nations General Assembly declared the year 2022 as the International Year of Sustainable Mountain Development, at the proposal of the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic. The corresponding resolution was sponsored by 94 governments and was adopted at the plenary meeting of the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly on 16 December 2021.

The resolution titled “International Year of Sustainable Mountain Development, 2022” (document A/76/L.28) invites Member States, organizations of the United Nations system, other international organizations and stakeholders, including civil society, private sector and academia, to observe the International Year to increase awareness of the importance of sustainable mountain development and the conservation and sustainable use of mountain ecosystems.

It furthermore invites the Mountain Partnership, in collaboration with all relevant organizations, to facilitate the observance of the International Year.

The year 2022 also marks the 20th anniversary from the first International Year ever devoted to mountains (International Year of Mountains 2002) as well as the 20th anniversary of the Mountain Partnership.

Next year, as part of the resolution’s implementation, the Kyrgyz Republic will promote an initiative for the adoption of a five-year action plan for the development of mountain regions at the United Nations.

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