Linkages of Green Consumerism with Agrobiodiversity Conservation in Himalayan Mountains


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In high altitudes of Kullu district of Himachal Pradesh, about 45 traditional cultivars of 15 different crops of millets, pulses, beans, barley, pea, buckwheat, horse gram, maize, wheat, potato and soybean are better adapted to the local agro-climatic conditions in comparison to the HYVs. Abundance, sown area, cultivation history, yield, bio-physical characteristics, economics and agronomic practices were studied in 2007-10 followed by the characteristics of each cultivar such as size/color/taste of the seed/fruit/tuber, nutrition value, and resistance to pests/insects/pathogens/water stress. Participatory research with farmers revealed that agricultural biodiversity can longer be protected because of fast invasion of monoculture-based farming systems in mountains, which is indirectly linked with growing unsustainable consumerism. Analysis in context of consumer-commodity relationships indicated that the consumer preference of lucrative foods has led to absence of market for food grains, pulses, oilseeds and vegetables of traditional cultivars in most of low-altitude mountain areas. As a result the monoculture with chemical farming has succeeded and the farm diversity declined. Changing pattern in consumerism is believed to have affected negatively the farmers’ behaviour of growing the traditional cultivars of genetically-superior food crops. Can the green consumerism reverse the trend of erosion of agrobiodiversity, and provide the farmers with incentives of continuing to grow multiple crops with traditional varieties? Literature on green consumerism shows that there is a potential demand for products of traditional cultivars in new emergent economies including India, though the current food market is not responding to fully meet the needs and preferences of eco-friendly consumers. Product labeling, certification and quality control are some issues that diffuse the responsible consumers, thus causing setback to very market for products of traditional cultivars. This paper so recommends that by developing compulsory or voluntary labeling and certification to enhance information for potential green consumers about the products of traditional cultivars and by setting low-cost marketing channels to transfer premium price back to farmers could help farmers to sustain the adoption of traditional cultivars as against modern varieties. It would help conserve in situ the agrobiodiversity in Himalayan mountains, and to maintain resilience of agro-ecosystems for mitigation of the effects of climate change.

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Linkages of Green Consumerism with Agrobiodiversity Conservation in Himalayan Mountains

  1. 1. When any species orcultivar is lost thecenturies oldtraditional knowledgeabout the same alsodisappear. Itdisbalances themountain agro-ecosystem, farmsustainability andfood security.
  2. 2. International Seminar on Emerging Consumerism in Context of Climate Change: Issues and Challenges Chamba, Himachal Pradesh, India, 3-5 October, 2012 Linkages of Green Consumerismwith Agrobiodiversity Conservation in Himalayan Mountains By: Hasrat Arjjumend Banjar – 175123 District Kullu Senior Fellow Himachal Pradesh (India) Tel: 01903-200202, 200201, 09418133427, 09910188948 Chuni Lal Fax: +91-01903-222257 Head of Operations E-mail: Website:
  4. 4. Nohanda: 42 cultivars Tung: 19 cultivarsAGROBIODIVERSITY• 15 different crops• 45 traditional localcultivars
  5. 5. GHNP’s Traditional Crops and Its CultivarsMillets: French White (Panicum milliaceum), Ragi or Red Millet:Echinochloa utilis), Red Jhalli (Oplismenus frumentaceus), Finger Millet(Eleusine coracana), Finger White (Echinochloa utilis)Pulses: Mash of Black Gram (Phaseolus mungo), Totru, Maser (Lensculinaris), Chana (Cicer aietenum), KohlBeans: Chittera (urad) (Phaseolus vulgaris), White Chittera (safedurad), Red Chittera (laal urad), Kidney Bean (rajma), White Bean (safedrajma), Kohal, *UIBarley (Hordeum vulgare): Gundev, Shalai, Naked Barley (Hordeumhimalayens), *UIPea (Pisum sativum): Farsi, Lincon, Aurcul, *UICommon Buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum): KathuMaize (Zea mays): Shatu, Chuhedani, DuaniWheat (Triticum aestivum): Siraji, Kinouri, *UIPotato (Solanum tuberosum): Dhankhri, Chandermukhi, UptodateKulth or Horse Gram (Macrotyloma uniflorum): KulthSoybean (Glycine max) * UI = Unidentified Local
  6. 6. Erosion & Survival of Agrobiodiversity• Monoculture spreading in market-connected villages• High yielding hybrids taking over the traditional cultivars• Cultivation of millets, barley, buckwheat and horse gramdeclined• Yet, certain traditional cultivars of bean, maize, pulses,potato are surviving the onslaught of modern agriculture• Traditional cultivars have superior traits vis-a-via HYVs:in terms of yield, survival in harsh geo-climatic conditionsat high altitudes, resistance to water stress/pathogens,total time of crop cycle, adaptation to local climates &farmers’ socio-economic situations, nutrition value, input-requirements, weed coexistence, etc.
  7. 7. Erosion & Survival of Agrobiodiversity Nohanda G.P. (42 cultivars) survives against TungG.P. (19 cultivars) 25% more farmers cultivate millets in NohandaG.P. than Tung G.P. HYVs of Garlic (Agrobound Parvati), Potato (KufriJyoti), Wheat (PBW343, HPW89, HPW42, Raj78) tookover in Tung G.P. Dhankhri cultivar of potato is surviving as againstKufri Jyoti in Nohanda G.P. Siraji cultivar of wheat is surviving as againstPBW343, HPW89, HPW42, Raj78 in Nohanda G.P.
  8. 8. Consumerism suppressing marketfor traditional food crops…Someone has to pay for our high-energy, lucrative or over-consumption
  9. 9.  Consumer preference of high-energy foods lead to absence of market for traditional cultivars based foods© Anne Ward Tiki Penguin Globalization-induced changes in lifestyles and attitudes have altered people’s choice of foods
  10. 10. Farmers continue growing genetically-superior traditional cultivars of crops based on 3 factors:a)economy associated with the crop produce;b)religious or cultural value of the crop; andc)self-consumption.Economic factor overridesall other socio-cultural orbiological factors
  11. 11. Space & price forproduce of traditionalcrop or cultivar in localmarket determines theirfate on-farmLocal markets are partof aggregate supplychain of commoditiesNeglect of traditional cropsin local markets lead tomonoculture of few crops
  12. 12. QdN = f(T)
  13. 13. Consumers’ awareness about theenvironmental externalities ofintensive crop, rise in the demandfor green productsThere is potential demand for productsof traditional cultivars in new emergenteconomies, though current foodmarket not responding to fully meetthe needs and preferences of eco-friendly consumersStill much to be learnt about consumerpreferences and values assigned totraditional cultivars or landrace productsGreen Consumerism = Agrobiodiversity Conservation
  14. 14. Green Consumerism Biodiverse FoodsFood Security Agrobiodiversity Low External Inputs Sustainable Farming SystemsSustainableLivelihoods of SustainableFarmers Agroecosystem Climate
  15. 15. INFORMATIONabout theproduce oftraditionalcultivars
  16. 16. Product labelingCertificationQuality control
  17. 17. THANKSTo All Audience for patience
  18. 18. Development Interventions of GRASSROOTS on Agrobiodiversity Conservation• Preservation and re-introduction of traditional cultivars insitu coupled with improvement in agronomic methods offarmers for enhancing the yield;• Linking the organic produce of the traditional crops withinnovative post-harvest techniques and better marketopportunities.
  19. 19.