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Putting Nature at the Heart of Farming – Episode 30

This month’s episode is all about biodiversity and agriculture.

First, with the COP15 biodiversity conference about to take place, we examine IFAD’s new biodiversity strategy. We then hear from IFAD projects in Haiti, Turkey, and Eswatini that focus on biodiversity conservation, and we learn how ecological farming in Bangladesh is reaping rewards.

Next, we learn more about yak wool production, and we hear about how Seekar Technologies is bringing artificial intelligence to the farmyard. We’re also proud to welcome a new chef to our Recipes for Change programme: Chef Rob Rubba from Washington, D.C. And finally, with the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues set to take place in New York, we find out more about why Free Prior and Informed Consent is where it’s at.



Episode Contents


Renee Ankarfjard on IFAD’s Biodiversity Strategy

Preserving biodiversity – the dizzying variety of ecosystems and living beings on our planet – is vital for the health of the planet and even our own health. Yet our current agricultural practices are the lead driver of biodiversity loss worldwide. To protect biodiversity and ensure resilience in the face of climate change, we need to transform our food systems.

Recently, IFAD launched a new Biodiversity Strategy that will help us integrate the sustainable use of natural resources and the conservation of biodiversity throughout our operations and investments.

Renée Ankarfjard, IFAD’s senior technical specialist on environmental management, gives us a closer look.


Haiti’s Inclusive Blue Economy Project, with Mena Grossmann

Mena Grossmann, Agroecology Officer for IFAD’s Environment and Climate Division

Haiti faces a number of major environmental threats, including soil erosion, deforestation and overfishing. Climate change has only exacerbated these effects.

Recently, IFAD launched the Inclusive Blue Economy Project, an initiative to help fishers in the country’s Three Bays Protected Area restore the coastline, manage natural and marine resources, and create sustainable sources of income.

We spoke with Mena Grossmann, who helped develop the project, to learn more.


Biodiversity in Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, and Turkey, with Bernard Hien

Bernard Hein, IFAD Country Director

The Murat River Project, an IFAD-supported initiative in Turkey, has made quite a name for itself. Among its accolades are a 2019 IFAD Gender Award and the Guinness world record for most trees planted in an hour.

We sat down with Bernard Hein, the IFAD Country Director for Turkey, to learn more about the challenges facing biodiversity conservation in the region.


Jaana Keitaanranta on Eswatini’s award-winning commitment to conserving biodiversity

Another IFAD-supported project, this one in Eswatini, has won its share of awards too. It scooped the biodiversity prize at the Temvelo Climate Awards not once, but twice, in 2020 and again in 2021. This award is given to organizations active in Eswatini that demonstrate an exemplary commitment to conserving biodiversity.

We caught up with Jaana Keitaanranta, IFAD Country Director for Eswatini, to get the latest.


Ecological farming in Bangladesh with the PACE project

Dr Rafiq Islam, PACE project coordinator

The IFAD-supported PACE project in Bangladesh helps farmers become more adept with ecological farming methods. A major part of that is promoting the growth of chemical-free vegetables – that is, growing them without the use of synthetic fertilizers or pesticides.

This practice protects the soil and produces higher-quality food. And the benefits don’t stop there. As PACE project coordinator Dr Rafiq Islam explains, higher-quality product means farmers can charge higher prices – and the techniques in use help mitigate the effects of climate change, too.


A deep dive into yak wool production, with Antonio Rota

Antonio Rota, IFAD’s Lead Global Technical Specialist for Livestock

Following the Thread of Yak is IFAD’s first ever report on yak wool production. We spoke with Antonio Rota, IFAD’s senior livestock specialist, to learn more.


Kordel France on AI and the future of agriculture

Kordel France, Founder and CEO of Seekar Technologies

Kordel France’s interest in artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics began in his childhood. Growing up on a farm, he was fascinated by the autonomous driving software on his father’s tractors and other machinery.  

Today, Kordel is the founder and CEO of Seekar Technologies, a start-up that builds AI products for a variety of industries – including agriculture. He and his team are bringing AI into the field through a mobile platform that offers advanced analytical solutions. We sat down with Kordel to learn more.


Introducing Chef Rob Rubba

Chef Rob Rubba

Chef Rob Rubba is an environmentalist, activist, and chef from the East Coast state of New Jersey. He’s also the newest member of IFAD’s Recipes for Change cooking community.

Chef Rubba’s new restaurant Oyster Oyster, in Washington, D.C., is attracting a lot of attention – both for its food and for its exemplary sustainability practice. He spoke with us about how the loss of oysters affects biodiversity in D.C.’s Chesapeake Bay – and how serving oysters in his restaurant is actually a great way to counteract these effects.

And don’t miss our Recipes for Change campaign, an initiative that brings together over 20 award-winning chefs from across the world to share their local dishes and examine the real-life impacts of climate change on their communities.


Filiberto Penados on the importance of Free Prior and Informed Consent

Each of the world’s indigenous communities has its own organization, traditions, and ways of life – and when project leaders try to design development programmes for these communities, they can sometimes fail to take these into account.

That’s why it’s so important for project designers to seek indigenous peoples’ Free Prior and Informed Consent (F-PIC).

Against the backdrop of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples, set to take place in New York at the end of April, we examine F-PIC and what it means for project design.

Learn more about IFAD's work with indigenous peoples.


Summing Up

Thanks to our producer Francesco Manetti and everyone else who’s worked on this episode.

But most of all, thanks to you for listening to this episode of Farms. Food. Future, brought to you by the International Fund for Agricultural Development.

We’ll be back at the end of April with more news fresh from the farm. We’ll also be taking a closer look at decent work and fair livelihoods. And as always, we’ll be trying to be Good for You, Good for the Planet and Good for the Farmers.

Remember, we want to hear from you – what you think about our stories and the issues discussed, and who you want us to be talking to – so please get in touch at [email protected]. Send us your voice or text messages to that address and we’ll be happy to play you out in the next show.

Don’t forget to subscribe to this podcast via your favourite podcast platform – and please rate us!

From Brian Thompson, Ian Smith and the team here at IFAD, thanks for listening.


Similar Episodes to Enjoy

Our podcasts bring you the latest in climate change, environmental sustainability, and issues concerning women, youth, and indigenous peoples. If you liked this episode, check out the ones below!

In Episode 27, we looked at all things innovative in the world of agriculture.

In Episode 24, we discussed balancing biodiversity with agricultural development.

In Episode 20, we explored what it takes to keep the environment at the heart of farming.