November 15: Experts have stressed on the importance of food security amid challenges posed by climate change.
Speaking at a regional conference on Suitable Seeds for Food Security organized recently in Kathmandu, Dr Jagadish Chandra Pokharel, former vice-chairman of the National Planning Commission, said that the importance of food security has grown multi-fold given the changing climatic conditions.
Dr Pokharel, who is also the chairman of the Nepal Institute for Urban and Regional Studies (NIURS), added that seed diversity is integral to food security.
The conference was organized jointly by South Asia Watch on Trade, Economics and Environment (SAWTEE), Kathmandu and Norway-based Fridtjof Nansen Institute (FNI) to disseminate the findings of the study “Suitable seeds for food security in fragile states”.
According to a statement issued by SAWTEE, the discussions held at the two-day conference focused on the roles of policy, legal and institutional frameworks with respect to access to suitable seeds in South Asia.
Another speaker Dr Kristin Rosendal, senior researcher at FNI, Norway, highlighted in her presentation that food security depends largely on access to a broad variety of suitable seeds. She argued that good quality food plants that are adapted to changing climate is necessary to fight climate change, added the statement. Dr Rosendal said that access to seeds is affected by international goals given that the top three corporations in the world control half the global seed market value. “Such facets intensely undermine the trust in the global circulation of seeds,” she added.
Dr Posh Raj Pandey, chairperson of SAWTEE, said that the overlapping global food and climate crises have left many people with multiple vulnerabilities, especially in the Least Developed Countries (LDCs). Hence, when formulating seed policy to ensure food security, the ground reality of LDCs should be taken into account, by enhancing participatory and gender-sensitive approaches and improving the linkages of seed security, agri-productivity, and nutrition within households.
Christian Prip, senior research fellow at FNI, said that there have been conflicting interests with regard to the industrialization of agriculture driven by economic gains and the objective of protecting the diversity of genetic resources of plants to ensure long-term food security and farmers rights.
The two-day conference saw discussions on topics such as ‘Fostering Regional Co-operation for seed security: South Asian Perspective’, ‘Changes in EU Seed Regulations – Global Trends’, ‘Financing Climate Change Adaptation’ and ‘Impact of COVID-19 on agri input chain’. The event saw participation of researchers, academics, policymakers, representatives of farmers’ bodies, consumer rights activists, organizations working on climate change adaptation, and media, among others. There were participants from Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Norway.