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New film reports on Mountain Agriculture Policy Dialogue

24 May 2017

TV news reports on the Policy Dialogue organised by IIED and Lok Chetna Manch in West Bengal, India

Kalimpong TV News featured an in-depth report about the Mountain Agriculture Policy Dialogue held in West Bengal on 6-7 May

The event was organised as part of the five-year Smallholder Innovation for Resilience (SIFOR) project, which aims to strengthen biocultural innovation for food security in India, China, Peru and Kenya.

The TV news film, which is in Nepali, shows senior biodiversity and agriculture policymakers from West Bengal, Uttarankhand, Nagaland and other mountain states in northern India arriving at Lingsey community, a SIFOR project site.

The delegates visited the Bean Park, a biocultural heritage territory of 1,000 hectares that is being established by Lepcha and Limbu communities to conserve the agrobiodiversity of the area. The community conserves more than 30 bean landraces (including some varieties of local origin), as well as unique dryland rice varieties. These varieties have largely been lost, but are becoming increasingly important in the face of climate change.

The policy dialogue brought together participants from Kenya, Peru and China to discuss biocultural innovations for climate resilience. Indian policymakers were impressed by presentations about Peru's Potato Park, participatory plant breeding in China and cultural tourism in Kenya, and identified concrete steps to better support similar traditional knowledge-based innovations in India.

The chairs of the State Biodiversity Boards of West Bengal and Uttarankand pledged to support efforts to gain formal recognition of biocultural heritage territories such as the Bean Park, through the provision of Biodiversity Heritage Sites under the National Biodiversity Act.

Interviewed for the film, IIED's Krystyna Swiderska talked about the importance of the Kalimpong region's rare crop varieties and of conserving biodiversity, saying: "[We want] to strengthen the conservation of agrobiodiversity, because this region is a centre of origin for rice and has a great diversity of beans, and in the world today they have lost all this diversity – but here you still have it.

"So we want to work with you to conserve the diversity, and the culture that conserves the diversity and increases it, for food security of the region and of the world."

The four-and-a-half minute film also reports on the Community Seed Bank that has been established in the Lingsey community with the support of the SIFOR project to conserve crop diversity and ensure seed security for farmers.

The report shows young women performing a traditional Lepcha dance, reaffirming the traditional cultural values that are fundamental to sustaining the biodiversity of the Eastern Himalayan region, a global biodiversity hotspot.

Further reading

Biocultural heritage territories, Alejandro Argumedo, Krystyna Swiderska (2014) IIED report


Krystyna Swiderska (, principal researcher (agriculture and biodiversity), IIED's Natural Resources research group