Mountains are among the most important ecosystems for the survival of our planet, providing essential goods and services. Not only are they home to 1.1 billion people, but they also provide 60-80 percent of the global freshwater resources for domestic consumption, irrigation, industry, food, and energy production. Mountains matter for all, and in mountainous regions globally, agriculture is often the backbone of the local economy. However, farming in mountain regions is undergoing rapid transformation, and global environmental and economic changes have contributed to higher pressure on local resources, unsustainable practices in land use, and loss of local customs and ancient traditions. The urgent challenge is to identify new and sustainable opportunities that can enhance the resilience of mountain peoples and their ecosystems. Investments and technical support are needed to diversify and boost mountain farming systems and improve the competitiveness of mountain agricultural products and bolster their value chains.
Photo by: //unsplash.com/@rlesemane Relebohile Lesemane
Enhancing Mountain Resilience
Since 2020, the Small Grants Programme, the Mountain Partnership, and Slow Food International have been working together to address some of these challenges through an initiative titled ‘Enhancing agri-food value chains to increase resilience of mountain communities’. The initiative leverages the efforts of all partners with the common goal of increasing the resilience of mountain communities through the improvement of local mountain economies. This initiative is being implemented in Guatemala, Lesotho, Nepal and Rwanda, and aims at strengthening the value chains of high-value mountain products and the building the capacity of farmers and producer organizations to promote sustainable mountain products.
To date, capacity building activities such as agrobiodiversity mapping, value chain improvement, and Participatory Guarantee Systems have been conducted with 12 producer communities, representing 1,041 farmers, of whom 657 are women. Mountain agri-products promoted through this initiative include coffee, honey, tea, mushrooms, sorghum, barley and rosehip berries, among others.
International Year of Sustainable Mountain Development 2022 is a unique opportunity to raise awareness about the role of mountains and mountain people for our planet and sustainable development. The theme of this year's International Mountain Day on 11 December is ‘women move mountains’, recognizing the key role women play in mountains' environmental protection and social and economic development. They are often the primary managers of mountain resources, guardians of biodiversity, keepers of traditional knowledge, custodians of local culture, and experts in traditional medicine.
Read more about how SGP and the Mountain Partnership are working together to support rural women and mountain communities in Lesotho: Moving Mountains- Enhancing food security for mountain communities in Lesotho.