The Institute of Biodiversity Conservation (IBC) and key stakeholders and collaborators held celebrations at Wondo Genet, an area comprised of remnant natural forests and where the Wondo Genet College of Forestry (WGCF) is located. On 21 May, invited guests and IBC staff visited the Wondo Genet Field Gene Bank, which was created to conserve the genetic resources of medicinal, horticultural, forage and pasture plants. Mr. Belachew Wassihun, Head of the Medicinal Plants Genetic Resources Department at IBC, provided a briefing on the gene bank’s conservation activities.

A symposium titled “Biodiversity and Agriculture” was held 22 May at WGFC. Organized in partnership with GTZ and the East and Central Africa Plant Genetic Resource Network (EAPGREN) the symposium emphasized the value of agricultural biodiversity for food security, human nutrition, improved rural livelihoods, and the need for actions to halt the loss of agricultural biodiversity and to enhance the contributions that rural landscapes make to human well being.

Dr. Kassahun Embaye, Deputy Director General, IBC, said this year’s IBD celebrations reflected the importance of biodiversity for sustainable agriculture, and that biological diversity conservation ensures food security, socio-economic growth and development and environmental improvement through perpetual provisions of ecosystem goods and services.

The State Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development (MOARD), Dr. Abera Deressa, said biodiversity should be further enhanced to better use the huge potential for sustainable agricultural development. He stressed that the sector must increase food production while adopting sustainable and efficient agriculture, sustainable consumption, and landscape-level planning that ensures the preservation of biodiversity.

Three papers were presented on issues related to biodiversity conservation and sustainable agricultural development. These presentations were then followed by constructive and fruitful discussions.

About 200 participants – including high government officials, government and private sector representatives, NGOs, academia and research institutions – discussed the links between biodiversity conservation and agriculture to alleviate poverty and ensure food security. Ethiopia’s role and responsibilities in dealing with global climate change, food crises and biofuel issues were also discussed.