Community led Centre for Excellence for Agro-ecology and Agro-biodiversity launched in Malkangiri district by Government of Odisha

Blog by Dinesh Balam, Program Coordinator, Odisha Millets Mission and WASSAN | January 27, 2021

On the eve of International Day for Biological Diversity (May 22) in 2020, District Administration of Malkangiri, Odisha issued terms and references for committee on agro-ecology and agro-biodiversity with focus on Swabhiman Anchal of Chitrakonda.

Accordingly, since May 2020, characterisation of native goat breed by name “Malkangiri Goat” was completed and submitted to NBAGR for registration. In addition, collection of native landraces of finger millet, little millet, turmeric and other crops are also in process. Collaboration is also being proposed with anthropologists for documentation of linkages between culture and agriculture.

Initiative has generated enormous enthusiasm in the national and international arena. A district committee on agro-ecology and agro-biodiversity has already received praise and recognition in the “Organic and Natural Farming in India: Challenges and Possibilities” from Centre for Science & Environment, New Delhi.

In this context, Community led Centre for Excellence for Agroecology and Agrobiodiversity launched in Malkangiri by Government of Odisha. Mr Subroto Bagchi, Chairman OSDA was the chief guest. Dr Saurabh Garg IAS, Principal Secretary, Department of Agriculture & FE was guest of honour. This centre aims to become on-farm custodian of genetic diversity of flora of the biodiversity-rich KBK region. It is proposed that centre will also take up active participatory research on biodiversity-related activities with the active collaboration of community especially WSHGs. Centre will take up in-situ conservation and maintain the genetic purity of landraces. It will also undertake diverse seed production of endemic varieties which are in demand by the farmers and supply through Women SHGs/SHG Federations/Farmer producer organizations. In addition, strengthening the biodiversity management committees with focus on biodiversity registers in the district shall be taken up on mission mode.

Centre will engage with CSOs, experts and farmer activists involved in conservation of native landraces/germplasm within and outside Odisha. In addition, International Experts from Food & Agriculture Organisation, UK-India Agriculture ecology initiative, Coventry University, Welthungerhilfe and others have evinced interest to engage with Agro-ecology initiatives of the district. Aim of centre is not to just undertake research and conservation, but to ensure access of diverse quality germplasm to farmers and make a material difference in people’s lives through sustainable use of genetic resources. It is also proposed to engage with NBPGR and other institutes to bring germplasm stored in the cryogenic labs back to farmer fields. Alternative seed systems for indigenous landraces is also proposed to be piloted in due course of time. Necessary protocols are proposed to be developed accordingly. 

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