International Workshop on Seabuckthorn, Beijing, August30, 1999

Opening Ceremony Statement by



Mr. Chairperson Mr. Zhu Dengquan, Her Excellency Madame Lena Lindberg UNDP Resident Representative, His excellency Mr. Qureshi FAO Resident Representative, other distinguished quests, Ladies and gentlemen...

I feel privileged to convey to you greetings of the Director General, Mr. Egbert Pelinck, the International Center for Integrated Mountain development called ICIMOD, based in Kathmandu, Nepal, ICIMOD has a long term association with institutions in China for promoting seabuckthorn in the marginal and fragile mountain region of the Hindu Kush Himalayan region. It is in this context that the Director General Mr. Pelinck has expressed hope that participants of the workshop will have useful deliberations both for promoting seabuckthorn and about strengthening international cooperation and International Center for Research and Training on Seabuckthorn (ICRTS).

As I said earlier, ICIMOD has a long time partnership with institutions in China for disseminating and helping replicate successful experiences of china in harnessing Seabuckthorn in several countries of the HK- Himalayan region, namely Nepal, India, Pakistan, Bhutan etc. In addition, after playing a key role in helping create ICRTS in 1995, I feel personally happy to be here in this meeting again. Today, we have gathered here in Beijing to assess the progress made so far and share our thoughts on prospects and challenges that lie ahead in promoting seabuckthorn. I take this opportunity to share some thoughts on these issues.

Ladies and Gentlemen, vicious cycle of soil erosion, land degradation and poverty of those living on marginal and fragile lands and the need for soil and water conservation and sustainable development are the key words you keep hearing mentioned in various national and international fora. Mr. Zhu has already mentioned how much importance China attaches to these issues and so should be several other nations in the developing world.

However, I am presenting the whole story to you in a bit different way. It is a fact that living on marginal lands is a necessity for majority of the people in the developing third world. All thoughts of shifting this large mass of population to better areas have proved wishful and the reality is that an and fragile lands in the future. Development interventions to help people constraints to improving agricultural productivity and poverty alleviation. Marginal lands are considered as root cause of poverty. Croplands in these areas are scarce and need constant efforts to enhance and maintain fertility for optimum farm production- a difficult task indeed.

There are many questions that confront us today such as; can marginal lands be turned into lands of opportunities with appropriate sustainable productive production systems? Can we think of approaches which help change our mind sets which believe that marginal and fragile lands are a constraint to development and better livelihood opportunities? Is there scope for development and poverty alleviation along with conservation of these lands?

Mr. Chairperson, seabuckthorn based production systems on marginal and fragile lands that China has taken the lead in developing serve as fine example to prove that it is possible to make marginal lands sustainably productive, using resources from indigenous biological diversity. Seabuckthorn production system highlights the approach how we can combine benefits of horticulture and forestry on marginal lands and also lessen the need for crop land expansion which is considered harmful to conservation efforts on these lands. Those looking for alternative approaches to food security and poverty alleviation in the developing world will find a guiding star message in seabuckthorn associated agroforestry production systems. Seabuckthorn associated agroforestry production systems. Seabuckthorn provides a pathway to search for many other biological resources native to marginal lands that may be hiding several promising alternative options for stable ecology and vibrant economy of these areas.

While seabuckthorn based production system on marginal and fragile lands can be very useful both from economic and ecological view points but it happens only if bold initiatives are taken in plant research, agro-industrial research and marketing investments. Further, Chinese successes also indicate that reforms in land use rights and mobilisation of farming communities is equally important to achieve the success.

While working in the Himalayan region ICIMOD has already experienced how we can meet failure in promoting seabuckthorn on common property lands forests and other marginal lands. By raising this issue here, I wished to highlight that if seabuckthorn has to provide cover to large areas of naked marginal and fragile lands workshop participants also need to look at issues beyond pure plant science research.

Mr. Chairperson there is also the issue of perceptions about seabuckthorn. While for those living in and / or concerned about the marginal and fragile areas like mountains and highlands seabuckthorn offers prospects for improving farm economy and livelihoods, a good stable environment and many products of much daily use, health value etc. However, for others such as the societies in the developed world seabuckthorn should of interest because it offers several unique products some of them like seabuckthorn oil are of great medical value to mankind. With more research several new uses may be found. There offer good reason for the western institutions and governments to support and invest in seabuckthorn R & D in the developing world. Besides, this plant species has potentials of becoming a NEW CROP of many countries of the temperate region. Here we should accept the fact that developing and developed nations may like to pursue seabuckthorn R & D with different motives but outcomes will ultimately benefit the poor in the marginal lands I hope.

I guess the participants to this workshop have major tasks to fulfill, which include;

exchange of new knowledge and information that may have gathered

through their R & D work on seabuckthorn

deliberate on new research challenges necessary to make seabuckthorn a

promising plant / crop of production system that is appropriate for

marginal and fragile lands / regions

delibrate on products, marketing and investment issues which hold the key

to seabuckthorn success story

I hope participants will not forget to share their experiences on how to

expand plantations on CPRs and how overcome traditional mind sets of

forestry and legal complexities of land tenure and land use rights.

Finally, you have a serious task to discuss ways to further strengthen

mechanisms for international cooperation and support to ICRTS

Let me conclude by wishing all success to this meeting- on behalf of ICIMOD as well as on my personal behalf.

I am sure the workshop will be a meaningful exercise in making contributions to sharing of knowledge and information, discussing effective ways of international cooperation, in suggesting ways to strengthen ICRTS and for charting a promising R & D agenda about seabuckthorn for the coming decade of the next millenium.

Thank you all very much.

>>>>Tej Partap, Head Mountain Farming Systems Division, ICIMOD, P.O.Box 3226, Kathmandu, Nepal. FAX: 9771524509, Tel 9771525313 EMAIL: