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Scaling up Agroecology in the Himalayas: Towards a Common Roadmap

A multi stakeholder process in the Himalayan Region focused on the development and implementation of a roadmap for agroecology-based food systems.

In close cooperation with local partners, the World Future Council (WFC) and IFOAM – Organics International are currently facilitating a multistakeholder process in the Himalayan Region focused on the development and implementation of a roadmap for agroecology-based food systems. This four-year endeavour is supported by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

Our world’s food and farming systems currently face multiple challenges ranging from natural resource depletion, climate change, chemical pollution and biodiversity loss to farmers and food workers not earning a decent income as well as hunger, malnutrition, ill-health, migration and much more. The way we produce, process, distribute, market, consume or waste food can either alleviate or exacerbate these conditions.

“Addressing these problems requires integrated actions taken by all stakeholders at local, national, regional, and global levels, by both public and private actors, and across multiple fronts – not only in agriculture, but also in trade policy, health, environment, gender norms, education, transport and infrastructure”

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

To upscale the role of agroecology in mountain development and worldwide, policy frameworks should go beyond the production focus and the conventional ‘value adding chain’ approach and pursue agroecology with a holistic food systems approach to achieve the targets foreseen by the 2030 Agenda. This is where the Himalayan region could be a flagship for expansion of sustainable food systems.

About the Himalayan Region

The Hindu Kush Himalayan (HKH) region spreads over an area of 3,500 kilometres. Vast areas of the Himalayan Region remain predominantly untouched by the disruptive effects of the Green Revolution and traditional agriculture still represents the main occupation.

Mountain agriculture is characterized as an integrated system shaped by the ability of man to value abundant local resources as well as their ability to adapt to hardships caused by the biophysical environment.

Agriculture in the region is largely rainfed, making it prone to the vagaries of the weather and highly vulnerable to climate variability and climate change, even more so as the region is a climate hotspot. These have an escalating adverse impact on farming-based livelihoods, with declining agricultural yields, income, and increasing risks of food insecurity.

Currently around 50% of the region’s population faces some form of malnutrition, with women and children suffering the most. The lack of financial resources is making an adequate diet often unaffordable. However, the causes of food and nutrition insecurity in the HKH region are multifaceted and influenced by a range of factors, including – besides high poverty – also natural resource degradation, climate change, low level of market development, uncertain food support, and inadequate policy and institutional support.

Conscious of these conditions and challenges, HKH policymakers have increasingly recognized the need for strengthening sustainable food systems in line with agroecology. While a considerable political commitment has been implemented with varying degrees of intensity, there is the need for a more comprehensive, systemic vision and approach to expand agroecology-based food systems that also addresses the contradictions in public policy not enough to support or even hindering agroecology scaling up potential.

What’s our plan?

In early 2023, we undertook intense stakeholder mapping and wrote an extensive Roadmap Background Report. Moreover, an expert group named ‘Agroecology Himalayas Task Force’ has been established, with the mandate to inform and co-shape several meetings and workshops to advance the development of the roadmap. The group is open for more experts’ participation active in this area.

From May 2023 until April 2027, the World Future Council and IFOAM – Organics International are supporting the Agroecology Himalaya Task Force, amongst others, with:

  • facilitating the development and finalization of a Roadmap for agroecology-based food systems by Bhutanese, Indian and Nepali stakeholders
  • organizing a high-level event in 2024 at which this Final Roadmap is launched and presented with high-level stakeholders
  • working with local partners to develop a medium-term implementation strategy for key measures of the final Roadmap and to facilitate together with local partners the implementation of this strategy
  • providing capacity-building for stakeholders on engagement in food policy processes, as well as
  • overall coordination
  • Support for roadmap development strategy and guidance
  • Technical assistance, including policy research and analysis, data analysis, expertise, networking, cross-border exchanges, etc.
  • Media and communications strategy, including narrative, branding, tools, as well as coordination of media work
  • Capacity-building training courses, materials, and training toolkit for the ToT approach
  • Knowledge products
  • Fundraising
  • Financial management
  • Monitoring and evaluation, including a stocktaking report and event in 2027.

A summary of the project can be found here

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Recently the Himalayan Agroecology Initiative has gained momentum. Through close collaboration with governments in the region and with support from a broad group of stakeholders called the Agroecology Himalaya Task Force, the World Future Council (WFC) and IFOAM – Organics International (IFOAM-OI) together with the Alliance Bioversity International-CIAT, UNDP India and LI-BIRD facilitate the development of a roadmap for sustainable food systems with a specific emphasis on India, Nepal and Bhutan. Read further.


Ingrid Fritsche

Ingrid Fritsche

Project Manager – Scaling up Agroecology


Alexandra Wandel

Alexandra Wandel

Chair, Management Board


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