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Biocultural innovation in the Central and Eastern Himalaya, India


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This is a presentation by Ajay Rastogi, SIFOR-India co-ordinator at Lok Chetna Manch, for a side event at the 15th meeting of the FAO Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, on 22 January 2015.

The event was organised by IIED, Asociacion ANDES (Peru), Centre for Chinese Agricultural Policy (China), Lok Chetna Manch (India) and Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI).

Rastogi’s presentation highlights findings from the baseline study on innovation conducted as part of the SIFOR project (Smallholder Innovation for Resilience).

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Biocultural innovation in the Central and Eastern Himalaya, India

  1. 1. Biocultural Innovation in the Central and Eastern Himalaya India Ajay Rastogi, LCM India
  2. 2. Evidences of Change • Extreme events- more frequent – Floods in 93, 2003, 2005,2010, 2013 – Longer dry spells & erratic rainfall 4 consecutive failures of Rabi crop from 2009-2012 Localised extinction of many seeds • Temperature: soaring high – day time temperature higher: Terminal heat – Shift in altitude for Apple and Peaches Soaring low - drying up of many fruit trees e.g. Mango ? Malta orange, Guava: fruiting less? ? New birds in the locality? • Changing landscapes -Epidemic in cardamom – Colletotrichum blight
  3. 3. Visible Trends • Agricultural production: rain fed, NR based: going down – Main livelihood source – Livelihood insecurity • Water levels going down- ground, rivers and streams – Water crisis: drinking, irrigation • Increase in pests and diseases – Declining production – Declining quality • Less moisture in the forest: fires have increased- forest degradation - Habitat for wildlife • Soil erosion, landslides – life, property, land loss • Increased migration of men, families • Food and nutrition insecurity - Cattle played a key role • Impact on women is more
  4. 4. Farmers innovations • Erratic rainfall – immature crop harvest • Increased frost led re-introduction • New varieties – radish and black rice beans • Bringing crops closer home – new crop mixes • Bringing crops from forest to agricultural land • Composting and water management • Planting on the wall of the terrace • Reviving practice of collective work/exchange
  5. 5. Sustaining the innovations • People factors: kinshsip and ancestors • Institutional: landscape focus - CBOs, traditional, fasal surakhsha samiti • Networking: no ‘formal’ networks; cultural events, festivals, ceremonies; rituals • Community: pride, uniqueness • Linked through the Biological and cultural heritage in the landscape • Emerging questions: carbon sequestration (fallow, conversion into pastures, removing a tier from forests)