International Biological Diversity Day, May 22, 2021 Celebrated at ICAR-NBPGR, New Delhi

Date Posted: 27-05-2021

ICAR-NBPGR, New Delhi celebrated International Biological Diversity Day on 22nd May 2021as a part of ongoing series of programs being organised by ICAR under Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, for commemorating 75 years of India’s Independence.Under the theme “We're part of the solution” of International Day for Biological Diversity, we organised a lecture on “Agrobiodiversity and Food Systems for Sustainable Nutrition and Health”. Dr Kuldeep Singh, Director, ICAR-NBPGR, welcomed chief guest, speaker, farmers and all guests from various organisations, while Dr SP Ahlawat introduced the guest speaker Dr Danny Hunter Senior Scientist with the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT. Dr Danny in his lecture stressed on diversification of food systems by incorporating nutri-rich native varieties and crops especially Neglected and Underutilized Species (NUS) in diets to address issues related to food and nutrition security. He demonstrated that how nutri-rich native varieties and NUS have not only been mainstreamed but also incorporated in the policy framework through the GEF funded project “Biodiversity for Food and Nutrition” implemented in Brazil, Turkey, Sri Lanka and Kenya. He stressed that to mainstream native agrobiodiversity strong national policy support, market linkages, confidence building and partnership among stakeholders and inclusion school feeding programs, etc. are crucial factors while planning. Dr Trilochan Mohapatra, Secretary, DARE and Director General, ICAR graced the occasion as Chief Guest. He appreciated and congratulated the Director of ICAR-NBPGR and team for well organised programme. In his remarks, he appreciated the efforts of farmers on conservation of genetic diversity, varietal improvement and maintaining informal seed systems. He also stressed on the need to document the germplasm conservation practices adopted by farming communities and popularise them and at the same time develop a network of custodian farmers to understand their problems and help in solving them. He also urged that different stakeholder should come together and develop a long-term action plan for mainstreaming biodiversity into the food systems.
Dr TR Sharma, DDG (Crop Science), ICAR also graced the occasion and showed his concerns on the unprecedented loss of biodiversity and highlighted not only the importance of native crops varieties in food and nutritional security but how diversifying crop varieties can help to overcome the issue of genetic vulnerability that happened due to increased genetic uniformity in the crops. He appreciated the DBT supported initiative at NBPGR on genomic assisted characterization of germplasm in crops such as rice, chickpea, wheat, oilseeds, and minor pulses, which might help in providing solutions. Dr JCRana, Country Representative, the Alliance of Bioversity and CIAT presented the initiatives of NBPGR and UNEP-GEF project on rematriation of the landraces, and emphasized on their role in addressing the current challenges faced by agriculture sector world-wide including climate change, soil degradation, loss of ecosystem services over time and high rate of malnutrition across the communities.
Dr KP Mahapatra, moderated the interaction session with custodian farmers, representing biodiversity rich regions across India, while Dr Veena Gupta presented the proceedings of Declaration contest on Indigenous Plant Wealth for Food, Nutrition and Health security. The programme was attended by around 300 guests through zoom and >100 guests on U-tube. Program ended with vote of thanks, presented by Dr Kavita Gupta, ICAR-NBPGR.

(Source Dr Sudhir Pal Ahlawat, ICAR-NBPGR, New Delhi)