The majority of rural communities have limited agricultural development opportunities within the hills and mountains of Nepal. While the dominant development model, which focuses on technology transfer and the evolution of commercial production systems, is effective when access to inputs and markets enables farmers to produce and trade successfully, many communities are marginalised from development opportunities by poverty and poor infrastructure. Complementary development approaches that value, conserve, develop and market agrobiodiversity could alleviate the extreme poverty where these conditions prevail as in the hills and mountains, the rural margins of Nepal. Formalised in situ approaches to agrobiodiversity conservation are in their infancy in Nepal, yet suggest that opportunities exist for a complementary agricultural development approach in the rural margins based on working with the local diversity, rather than its elimination. The obstacles of widespread poverty and inadequate infrastructure ensure that effective in situ agrobiodiversity conservation programs must provide for the needs of local people for sustainable development.