Crop Genetic Diversity is the part of nation’s heritage which has been conserved and sustainably used for generations and passed down from one generation to the next. It is also the fundamental raw material for crop improvement through farmers’ selection, classical plant breeding or modern biotechnology. Further, it is the potential source of genetic raw materials for adapting to unpredictable environment changes and future human needs. It is thus the collective responsibility of the current generation too to follow same suit of conservation, sustainable utilization and handing over this rich crop diversity maintained over generations by our fore fathers to the coming generations. Recognizing the importance of conservation and sustainable utilization of the crop genetic diversity, National Biodiversity Centre collaborates with RNR-RDCs and Dzongkhags to organize Biodiversity Fair. It provides opportunity to encourage farmers to maintain crop diversity in their fields, as well as recognize their efforts in maintaining diversity in the field. Biodiversity Fair also provides platform for exchanging seeds and knowledge amongst different farming communities in the country and in creating awareness on the importance of maintaining crop diversity in the field and other biodiversity conservation efforts in the country.
On 10th of December 2012, Biodiversity Fair was held in Mongar Public ground with funding support from International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA) project, Biodiversity Use and Conservation in Asia Program (BUCAP) Project and Bioversity International. It was a collaborative effort between National Biodiversity Centre, RNR-RDC, Wengkhar, and the Agriculture Sector of Mongar Dzongkhag. The fair was inaugurated by Mongar Dzongda and attended by farmer representatives from the 15 gewogs of Mongar Dzongkhag, Maize Farmers’ group representatives of Khaling and Drametse geowogs, Buckwheat and barley farmers’ group representatives of Bumthang and representatives from Shongphu soya bean cheese group from Tashigang Dzongkhag. Representatives from the international partners (SEARICE and Bioversity International), sectors heads and Gups of Mongar Dzongkhag, and officials of RNR-RDC, Wengkhar and NBC also participated in the fair. It was also attended by on-farm conservation project partners from different RDC’s and Dzongkhags.
Farmers participating in the fair were recognized for their efforts in maintaining the crop diversity in the field by awarding the prizes in two categories: One for the diversity and another one for the unique crop cultivated. A farmer Ms Tshewang Lhamo, from Sershong under Sherimung gewog bagged the first prize for maintaining and showcasing eighty crop varieties, while second prize went to farmer Mr. Sangay Tashi from Narang gewog for sixty two varieties of crops cultivated and maintained. A farmer Ms Pema Zangmo from Dramitse Gewog took the third prize with 59 varieties. In the second category of uniqueness of the crop maintained and showcased, famer Ms Karma Choying Dema, from Soenakhar village under Sherimung gewog took away the award with her unique “tiny” chilly (Solo Daza). Although only four farmers won the prizes, none of the farmers participating in the event went empty handed as each one of them were given a spade in recognition of their effort to maintaining crop diversity in the field. More importantly, the farmers awarded themselves more than the formal prizes as they busied themselves acquainting amongst each other and exchanging seeds and sharing experiences, from growing more crops to diversifying and value adding to their farm produces, which in turn left the organizers grinning with happiness and satisfaction of objective well-achieved!