IMI holds 7th Sustainable Mountain Development Summit

Gangtok, 11 Oct:

The 7th Sustainable Mountain Development Summit [SMDS-VII] was conducted on 03-04 Oct at Shoolini University inSolan, Himachal Pradesh. The two-dayannual event of Integrated Mountain Initiative [IMI] was followed by a conclave of Himalayan States on “Well Being of the Next Generation of Himalayan People” on 05 Oct at Shimla which was jointly organized by HIMCOSTE, IMI and Shoolini University, a press release informs.

With the theme “Well Being of Next Generation of Farmers in the Indian Himalayan Region”, the IMI Summit VII included three technical sessions namely Ecological Drivers of Change, Social Drivers of Change and the Economic Drivers of Change.

These sessions were followed by integrative session wherein key learnings from the three sessions were discussed threadbare and action points were deliberated. The concluding session was on “Youth Perspectives on New Age farming in the Indian Himalayan Region”.

Speaking at the inaugural function, Minister of Irrigation and Public Health &Horticulture, Government of Himachal Pradesh, Mahender Singh Thakur, highlighted the challenges faced by the farmers and horticulturalists in the hill States due to natural calamities. He called for adoption of new technologies and methods of farming to improve the productivity in order to enhance the livelihoods of farming community.

Minister for Social Justice, Empowerment & Cooperation, Government of Himachal Pradesh,Dr Rajiv Saizal, who attended the valedictory function as chief guest, stressed on the importance of a pan-Himalayan cooperation platform of the mountain States in the country.

The summit was attended by over 200 delegates from all the 10 mountain States and districts of the Indian Himalayan Region representing diverse areas of work including researchers, grassroots workers, policymakers, young agri-entrepreneurs and development professionals.

In his keynote address, Food Policy Analyst & Writer,Devinder Sharma, pointed out the stark fact that economic models of growth being followed were highly discriminatory and had made agriculture unviable.

Amongst the recommendations that emerged from the ecological drivers of change were understanding and recognising traditional practices of shifting cultivation that were environmentally sound and compensating the Himalayan states for the ecosystem services provided by them.

Discussions about the social drivers of change recommended the need for advocacy and communication through role modelling to restore agriculture as an aspirational livelihood, training of youth to complement agriculture with entreprenual opportunities such as ecotourism, policy changes which enable consoldiation of fallow landholdings and its productive use and popularising traditional agriculture, including promoting farm based folk history in schools and amongst the public. Economic drivers of change discussions desired that farmers be compensated for the discriminatory increase in their incomes and for their role in preserving ecology and for a national mission to release the synergies in the agricultural sector.

Apart from efforts to improve the farm economy in the mountain and hilly states through income incentivisation, introduction of new technologies and maintaining soil health, the Conclave also focused on opportunities for non-farm activities such as eco-tourism to improve mountain livelihoods.

The conclave also discussed the need to have a coherent policy for the payment of eco-system services [ESS], green bonus/green cess to the Himalayan States to compensate for the development disabilities.

The conclave concluded that a holistic and integrative approach is the need of the hour to ensure that development policies are compatible with one another and addressing the needs of the mountain communities for their well-being without compromising on the sustainability factor.

During the conclave, Sikkim was represented by State Minister for Food Security Agriculture, Horticulture & Cash Crop Development, Irrigation & Flood Control & Animal Husbandry, Livestock Fisheries & Veterinary Service Departments,SomNathPoudyal.