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Virtual Forum Linking Wild Foods, Biodiversity and Livelihoods For Inclusive Food Systems in Asia

Apai Janggut showing that Sirih leaves can be used as food.

Apai Janggut showing that Sirih leaves can be used as food. Kapuas Hulu, Kalimantan Barat, Indonesia.

Photo: Icaro Cooke Vieira/CIFOR, Flickr.

Between March 8-12, 2021, the SIANI Expert Group working with Wild Foods, Biodiversity and Livelihoods in Asia organized for the first time a virtual forum on wild foods, biodiversity and forest-based livelihoods with the objective to explore an outlook towards inclusive food systems in Asia before 2030.

The forum provided a platform to discuss and reflect on policy and practice recommendations needed to create an enabling environment for indigenous peoples and local communities who utilise and manage wild foods. It was also a venue for stakeholders to interact and engage each other in supporting initiatives in wild foods and forest-based livelihoods. We have collected below some of the presentations and content shared during the forum.

There were over 300 attendees who participated in the events coming from the public, private, civil society, research/academia, and indigenous peoples and local communities sector. The forum was an important milestone in strengthening an emerging network on wild foods and traditional food systems in Asia, bringing together people with a common interest in advocating for sustainable food systems and wild foods conservation and revitalisation.

“At the end of the day, we aspire for harmony between local knowledge and science, and between policy and practice,” says Femy Pinto, Executive Director of NTFP-EP Asia and the Expert Group Lead.

The way forward

The website used for the virtual forum,, will be turned into an online resource page on wild foods that will be updated regularly. 

Send a message to if you want to be part of the network and/or want to contribute with information, research or stories about wild foods, biodiversity and livelihoods. Together, let us continue to explore the importance of wild foods, biodiversity and forest-based livelihoods and the role that each of us can play towards making our food systems more inclusive and sustainable.

Click the tabs below to see some of the content used during the virtual forum. 

Virtual Forum Opening session: An outlook on wild foods and inclusive food systems in Asia towards 2030, 9 March 2021

The opening session of the forum with speakers from Sida, SIANI, indigenous groups and others.

We apologise in advance for the missing audio in the beginning of the video.

Recording also available in Bahasa Indonesia | Khmer | Tagalog | Tamil | Thai | Vietnamese

Virtual Forum Main session: The state of wild foods in South and Southeast Asia, 10 March 2021

Also available in Bahasa Indonesia | Khmer | Tagalog | Tamil | Thai | Vietnamese

Main session: Regional Policy Dialogue: Enabling and Enriching Policy and Practice, 11 March 2021

Also available in Bahasa Indonesia | Khmer | Tagalog | Thai

Virtual Forum Side event: Conversations with Women and Youth Food Heroes, 11 March 2021

See this exclusive session with indigenous women and youth in Asia on food security and current realities.

Also available in Bahasa Indonesia | Tagalog

Virtual Forum Side event: Slow and Sustainable: The Future of Food, 12 March 2021

Learn about a pioneering partnership with Slow Food networks in Indonesia, the Philippines and India with wild foods in the spotlight.

Also available in Bahasa Indonesia | Tagalog

Covid 19 Narratives from Asia

Watch these narratives from communities in Asia that rely on, collect and harvest food from the forest during the Covid 19 pandemic.

Narratives from Vietnam and the Philippines

Credit: NTFP-EP, PanNature, CSDM, Ayta Magbukon, BUKLURAN Philippine ICCA Consortium. (2020)

Narratives from Colombia

Credit: NTFP-EP, Conserve Indigenous Peoples Language (CIPL) Organization Cambodia (2020).

In a Different Light: The Karen Rotational Farming Story

Rotational farming, also called shifting cultivation or swidden agriculture by some, is one of the most misunderstood systems of land use. Many ASEAN countries have laws criminalizing or banning the practice, but for indigenous peoples, rotational farming is a sustainable practice closely interlinked into their lives and culture. NTFP-EP and PASD Thailand present a short film on how the Karen indigenous peoples in northern Thailand practice rotational farming. It explores how rotational farming has helped them provide for their food security, while also contributing to the sustainable management of their forest ecosystems.

Credit: NTFP-EP, PASD (2021).

Forest Food Field School in Addukam: Resource Centre and Wild Food Gardens

Up in the small village of Adukkam in the Palni Hills of the Western Ghats in India, lies a resource centre created to revive and rejuvenate the local knowledge on wild foods. Madhu Ramnath takes us on a journey in identifying a number of edible plants in the area – from tubers to leafy vegetables, and much more. Along the way, he highlights the work of the resource centre on the field of wild foods and related matters of community conservation.

Credit: NTFP-EP India (2020).

The Punan Adiu: Learning From the Aren River, Malinau, North Kalimantan

In these videos, we will see a series of activities with the young generation of the Punan Adiu tribe in Malinau, North Kalimantan, Indonesia, working with local food sources that are available for free in their traditional forests. 

Credit: NTFP-EP Indonesia.

Keeping it Flowing: The Pala’wan Almaciga Story

Many indigenous communities inhabit and care for the last high biodiversity forests on Earth. Palawan island, known as the Philippines’s last frontier, is home to the Palaw’an indigenous group. The Palaw’an residing in Amas village in the municipality of Brooke’s Point, Palawan exemplify the inextricable link between culture and ecology.

Credit: NTFP-EP, Samahan ng mga Palawano sa Amas Brooke’s Point Multipurpose Cooperative (SPABP).

People & Forests Slideshow

Humanity is nurtured by nature. In turn, humans have the responsibility to use nature sustainably.  Here are some of the faces of the people at the frontlines, whose lives are interlocked with the forests rhythm. Faces and scenes in harmony with and benefiting from the bounty of the forest.

Credit: NTFP-EP (2015).

Salween Peace Park and Food Sovereignty during Covid 19

In the Salween Peace Park, strong Indigenous governance and food sovereignty has been imperative in communities’ effective response to the current pandemic. Practicing traditional knowledge about the ‘use’ of natural resources through diverse agricultural systems and the ‘care’, through ecological conservation, is key to the Karen peoples’ food systems. Having biodiversity in their diverse agricultural systems helps them mitigate, adapt and survive natural disasters. Diversity is strength.

Credit: Salween Peace Park, Karen Environmental and Social Action Network (KESAN)  (2020).

Living with Forest and Having Healthy Food

Local Karen communities live together with nature as their livelihoods rely on resources obtained from the natural environment. To maintain and protect the sustainability of these natural resources, local Karen people use customary knowledge and practices passed down from their ancestors.

The local people from Yaw Meh Klo Area, Karen State, held a Traditional Cooking Event on August 25th 2020. The cooking event focused on utilising resources obtained from the local environment such as vegetables, fish, shrimp and livestock reared at home to strengthen the connection between their livelihoods, culture and the environment. This, and similar, event plays an important role in reminding and teaching the youth about Karen traditional cooking techniques so they can pass these practices on to future generations.

We all know that the forest provides basic food needs, so that it is vital for us to protect and conserve it. Some people however still think that protecting and conserving natural resources and the forest is not our job – it is someone else’s job. Actually, it is everyone’s responsibility to do this.

Credit: Karen Environmental and Social Action Network (KESAN)  (2020).

Strengthening Livelihoods and Protecting the Environment

Rice is a staple food for Indigenous Karen people in Mutraw District, Karen State, Kawthoolei. Living in a mountainous region, the majority of people practice upland rotational farming. The impacts of climate change on regional weather have caused rice production to decline.  To overcome these challenges and increase food security, KESAN worked with communities to establish rice bank projects to strengthen community livelihoods alongside with nature conservation.

Credit: Karen Environmental and Social Action Network (KESAN)  (2021).

5 challenges to Wild Foods

In this picture you find five current challenges to wild food, and a description on why they are posing as a current challenge.

Definition of Wild Foods

A picture describing the definition of wild foods.

A step-by-step guide on how we can sustain wild foods

A picture with a step-by-step guide on how we can sustain wild foods.