New GEF Project Launched

Integrating Traditional Crop Genetic Diversity for Mountain Food Security

New Project Supported by Global Environmental Facility Launched

16 May 2014, Kathmandu. The Integrating Traditional Crop Genetic Diversity for Mountain Food Security project aims to mainstream the use of diversity rich solutions in the mountain agroecosystems in Nepal to improve ecosystem services and resilience.  The project focuses on the important, nutritious, and climate-resilient crops in the high mountain agricultural ecosystems in Nepal from the perspective of breeding, processing, promotion, and policies. The project will develop and promote diverse sets of varieties, improve access to diverse seeds and planting materials, help reduce drudgery by promoting processing technologies, and promote an enabling environment for access to and benefit sharing of planting materials.

The expected outcome of the project will be the conservation and utilization of nationally and globally important cold and drought tolerant crop germplasms, to improve the food security and livelihoods of mountain communities. This will strengthen the capacity of smallholder farmers in managing diverse sets of agricultural biodiversity materials and create an enabling environment for access and benefit sharing.

The Global Environment Facility (GEF), the world’s largest public funder of international environmental projects, is supporting The Integrating Traditional Crop Genetic Diversity for Mountain Food Security project in Nepal.  The key executing partners of the project are Nepal Agricultural Research Council (NARC), Department of Agriculture (DoA), and Local Initiatives for Biodiversity, Research and Development (LI-BIRD). Bioversity International is coordinating the project with implementation support from United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

The GEF Trust Fund is providing USD 2.3 million for five years (2014-2019) in grant, while the five executing and implementing partners’ (NARC, DoA, LI-BIRD, Bioversity International and UNEP) are supporting the project with  USD 5.8 million in cash and in-kind co-financing.

The project will be implemented in four districts of Nepal: Dolakha, Kaski, Humla and Jumla, representing eastern, western, mid-western and the far-western regions of the country respectively.

The project will work on eight neglected and underutilized traditional crops that are important for food and nutritional security of mountain communities. These include, buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum and F. tararicum), cold tolerant rice (Oryza sativa), common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris), finger millet (Eleusine coracana), foxtail millet (Setaria italica), grain amaranth (Amarathus caudatus and A. Leucocarpus), naked barley (Hordeum vulgare var. nudum), and proso millet (Panicum miliaceum).

While the onset of new pests or pathogens and the abundance of rainfall cannot be predicted, agricultural biodiversity in the form of diverse sets of crop varieties in agricultural systems can be used to buffer against unpredictable changes and improve the system’s resilience. This explains the key role that agricultural biodiversity can play in the future.Heavy reliance on a few major crops, external seeds and pesticides, and subsidized and imported cereals (such as rice, wheat and maize), have resulted in a significant loss of genetic diversity in local, nutritious and climate resilient crops. This translates to a loss in future options in managing new pest and diseases and climatic unpredictability, while finding new market opportunities.

The project will cultivate partnerships with the public, private and NGO sectors and leverage resources for mainstreaming lessons and good practices. Community-based biodiversity management approaches will be employed to empower local institutions to effectively participate in local governance processes and to set up and implement relevant research for the development agenda. Project supervision will take an adaptive management approach, guided by project monitoring and an evaluation matrix.

Nepal, as a signatory of CBD, has developed a National Biodiversity Strategy to conserve, promote and sustainably utilize biological diversity. The Agrobiodiversity Policy of 2007 aims to conserve, promote and utilize agricultural biodiversity through both on farm (in situ) and genebank (ex situ) conservation methods. The project is intended to support these existing national policies and programmes.

For further information, contact:

  • Dr. Bhuwon Sthapit, Bioversity International, b.sthapit(at)
  • Dr. Madan Raj Bhatta, NARC, madan_bhatta86(at)
  • Sajal Sthapit, LI-BIRD, ssthapit(at)

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