From Tokyo to Kuttanad: Partnerships for agrobiodiversity conservation

September 18, 2019: It is a journey across the world for Ms Raffaela Kozar, who is on a mission to study how food and nutrition systems can be transformed.  From the USA, to Japan, to Indonesia and now to India, the researcher will spend the next few days in Kerala looking at governance of landscapes. Beginning her visit in India, Kozar presented her work to a core team at the M S Swaminathan Research Foundation in Chennai. Her experience with the International Satoyama Initiative, as well as her work as research scholar of the United Nations University Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability, (UNU-IAS) and Research Fellow, World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), Indonesia provided a rich array of experiences, resources and partnerships. “The study sites were chosen from two regions where high malnutrition is present,” explains Kozar “such as in Indonesia and where under nutrition dominates as in India. Also, there is a high incidence (55%) of poverty in India. While addressing the nutrition challenge, can we also get this right in terms of environment?” she queries.

Dr Suneetha Subramanian, senior Fellow at UNU discussed how there were multiple opportunities to strengthen ongoing work. “For instance, there are gaps in gender research in the case studies as gender is very often not explicitly mentioned as a topic, although communities are very much part of the conversation. It is also a contentious topic so is documented only when specifically, indicators for resilience are given.” Landscapes governance, especially in the context of rural-urban migration and specific focus on biodiversity conservation were discussed.

Dr Anil Kumar, Executive Director, MSSRF, who had recently presented at the IPSI8 conference as part of the Satoyama Initiative along with Dr Suneetha Subramanian, suggested that in focus and vulnerable areas of rich biodiversity, such as the Western Ghats there could be more intensive work, including in community agrobiodiversity management in different ecosystems as also in urban landscapes. “There is great need” he said, “for collaborative research to be strengthened across like-minded institutions for greater impact for a more sustainable world.”

Senior staff members from MSSRF participated in the seminar of Ms Kozar and she will now spend a few days studying Kuttanad the Globally Important Agriculture Heritage Site, besides travelling to Idukki as well and interacting with scientists, government officials, as well as communities.