Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the first International Agro-biodiversity Congress in New Delhi on Sunday and stressed on the need of encouraging a dialogue among relevant stakeholders – including farmers – to better understand everyone’s role in agro-biodiversity management and the conservation of genetic resources.
“I am happy to meet scientists and policy makers concerned with issues of agro-biodiversity who have come from various parts of the world. In the race to develop we have overexploited the nature and the pace has been really alarming in the recent decades, Modi said.
The Congress saw presence of 900 delegates from 60 countries in New Delhi. The four day event is aimed at driving home the point that Agricultural biodiversity is the foundation of sustainable agricultural development and is an essential natural resource to ensure current and future food and nutrition security.
India is the perfect venue for the first-ever International Agrobiodiversity Congress as it is one of the most diverse countries in the world. It takes up only 2.4% of the world’s land area, and yet it harbours 7-8% of all recorded species, including over 45,000 species of plants and 91,000 species of animals, Modi added in his speech.
The Congress aims to provoke discussion and knowledge-sharing on issues for the effective and efficient management of gene banks; science-led innovations in the field of genetic resources; livelihood, food and nutrition security though crop diversification, including use of lesser known crops and the role of crop wild relatives in crop improvement.
Other items on the agenda include issues relating to quarantine, biosafety and biosecurity; and Intellectual Property Rights and Access and Benefit Sharing in the context of exchange of germplasm. To deliberate on the role of all the stakeholders in effective management and use of agrobiodiversity, a Public Forum has also been planned during the Congress.
Co-organized by the Indian Society of Plant Genetic Resources and Bioversity International, a CGIAR Research Center headquartered in Rome, Italy, International Agrobiodiversity Congress received support from many Indian and international organisations engaged in the conservation and use of genetic resources.