Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the first ever International Agro-biodiversity Congress, (IAC) in Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi on November 6, 2016. The four day event (6-9 November) was organised by the Indian Society of Plant Genetic Resources and Biodiversity International, a CGIAR Research Centre headquartered in Rome, Italy and attended by 900 delegates from 60 countries
- The Congress was concluded with the adoption of Delhi Declaration on Agro-biodiversity Management.
- During the Conference, various aspects related to the access, conservation and use of the agro-biodiversity were discussed by the delegates of all the countries. The congress comprised of 16 technical sessions, four satellites sessions, a gene-bank roundtable, a public forum, a farmers’ forum and poster sessions
Agricultural biodiversity Congress :
Agro – biodiversity is defined as the variety and diversity of all the species of plant, animals and micro-organism that are used directly or indirectly for food and agriculture purpose.
Agricultural biodiversity (agro-biodiversity) is an essential natural resource that enables sustainable agricultural development and ensure current and future food and nutrition security globally.
- India being one of the most diverse countries in the world, with only 2.4 percent of the world’s land area, nurtures 7 to 8 percent of all recorded species with 45,000 species of plants and 91,000 species of animals.”
Aim of the Congress :
- To initiate and encourage a dialogue among stakeholders, including farmers to discuss how conserving agro-biodiversity can lead to its sustainable use for food.
- Address the threats imposed by climate change and ways to achieve sustainable agriculture production
- Discussing and sharing knowledge on issues for efficient management of gene banks, crop diversification, science-led innovations in genetic resources, issues relating to quarantine, intellectual property rights and biosafety and biosecurity.
- Cite a road map to enhance food, nutrition and health security by optimal utilisation of agro-biodiversity while protecting agro-ecosystems.
- Develop a network of partnerships to strengthen biodiversity management system at national, regional and global levels.
Delhi Declaration on Agro-biodiversity Management
The Preamble and Declaration was adopted by all the delegates at the concluding session of the congress on 9 November 2016.
Important Aspects of the Declaration :
- Agro-biodiversity conservation and its sustainable use was granted top priority towards achieving targets of Sustainable Development Goal (SDGs) that deals with poverty alleviation, food and nutritional security, good health, gender equity and partnership.
- Traditional knowledge on Agro-biodiversity to farm men and women, pastoralists and other tribal and rural communities and their role in its conservation and use for a food and climate resilient world while recognizing the necessary funding, legal and institutional mechanism was also discussed to ensure and facilitate their continued active participation.
- Researchers and policy-makers were urged to initiate, strengthen and promote complementary conservation strategies to conserve and use agro-biodiversity
- Researchers must employ modern technologies like genomic, space, computational, and nano-technologies and like for characterization, evaluation and trait discovery using genetic resources to achieve efficiency, equality, economy and environmental security in agricultural production systems and landscapes.
- Global exchange of plant, animal, aquatic microbial and insect genetic resources for food and agriculture were emphasied to meet the ever-growing food and nutritional needs of each country. .
- Recommendation was made to the governments and societies to put greater emphasis on public awareness and capacity enhancement programs on agro-biodiversity conservation and use.
- Developing and implementing an agro-biodiversity index was suggested to help monitor conservation and use of agro-biodiversity.
- Public and private sector partnerships was emphasized to actively invest in and incentivize the utilization of agro-biodiversity to address malnutrition, increase the resilience and productivity of farms, and enhance ecosystem services leading to equitable benefits and opportunities with particular emphasis on women and youth.
- UN is urged to consider declaring ‘Year of Agro-biodiversity’ soon for worldwide attention and ensure urgent action.
- A congress focusing on agro-biodiversity should be held each 3-5 years in order to maintain emphasis on this important area.