biodiversity refers to the variety and variability of animals,
plants, and micro-organisms on earth that are important to
food and agriculture. It comprises:
diversity of genetic resources (varieties, breeds, etc.)
and species used directly or indirectly for food and agriculture
(including crops, livestock, forestry and fisheries) for
the production of food, fodder, fibre, fuel and pharmaceuticals
the diversity of species that support production (soil biota,
pollinators, predators, etc.) and those in the wider environment
that support agro-ecosystems (agricultural, pastoral, forest
the diversity of the agro-ecosystems themselves.
Biodiversity takes into account not only genetic, species
and agro-ecosystem diversity but also cultural diversity,
which influences human interactions at all levels. The definition
thus includes domesticated, semi-domesticated, manipulated
or “wild”, with no clear cut demarcation between
natural and managed plant and animal populations.
Agricultural biodiversity fulfils a number of important roles,
food and livelihood security. Dynamic and complex rural
livelihoods usually rely on plant and animal diversity,
both wild and in different stages of domestication. Different
types of agricultural biodiversity are used by different
people at different times and in different places, and so
contribute to livelihood strategies in a complex fashion
Ensuring productive and environmental sustainability. In
addition to contributing to environmental sustainability,
agricultural biodiversity helps sustain many production
functions both in low external input and high input-output
agriculture: soil organic matter decomposition, nutrient
cycling, pollination, pest control, yield functions, soil
and water conservation, action on climate and water cycling,
biodiversity conservation and influence on landscape structure
Supporting development. Agricultural biodiversity can provide
the basis for biotechnologies (old and new), natural product
development, ecotourism, and other activities important
for well being and income generation in local, national
and global economies.
term “farmers” is used here to include people
who grow crops and harvest tree products as well as those
who work with livestock such as pastoralists and fisher people.
are those "ecosystems that are used for agriculture"
and food collection. Agroecosystems comprise polycultures,
monocultures, and mixed systems, including crop-livestock
systems (rice - fish), agro-forestry, agro-silvo-pastoral
systems, home gardens, urban farming, aquaculture as well
as rangelands, pastures and fallow lands. Their interactions
with human activities, including socio-economic activity and
socio-cultural diversity, are determinant.
livelihood comprises the capabilities, assets and activities
required to make a living. In pursuing different livelihood
strategies, the following assets are key:
Human skills, knowledge, good health and ability to labour
Natural assets from which resource flows useful for livelihoods
are derived (e.g. land, water, biodiversity, environmental
Physical means of production and basic infrastructure (transport,
shelter, energy and communications)
Financial resources available to people (savings, supplies
of credit, regular remittances, pensions)
Social networks, membership of groups, relationships of
trust and access to wider institutions of society upon which
Cultural assets- identity, meaning of the “good life”
and culturally valued ways of satisfying fundamental human
needs (e.g. subsistence, protection, affection, participation,
livelihood is sustainable when it can cope with and recover
from stresses and shocks and maintain or enhance its capabilities
and assets both now and in the future, while not undermining
its ecological base.
Systems - Global and Local
biodiversity is embedded in several larger systems,- in particular
systems include not just the production aspects of food and
fibre but also the preparation of agricultural inputs, processing,
distribution, access, use, food recycling and waste. Food
chains,- from the point where food and fibres originate to
where they are consumed and disposed of-, are important components
of the food system.
systems range from the local to the global. Some of the key
differences between local and global food systems relate to
the ecology of food production, markets, rural life and governance.
of Food Production
diverse agroecosystems are the backbone of local food systems
in most parts of the world. Localised food systems start at
the household level and expand to neighbourhood, municipal
and regional levels, -often using assets and resources internal
to those local contexts.
globalisation agricultural production becomes increasingly
industrialised and linked to international trade and long
globalisation of food and farming means a larger “ecological
footprint”-higher energy use, transport, CO2 emissions,
resource use, waste, pollution and loss of biological diversity.
industrial agriculture produces an egg
a diverse agro-ecosystem produces an egg
of marketing and social life
food systems usually mean shorter
distances and closer trading links between producers,
processors and consumers.
Local food systems usually lead to:
money circulating within local communities
more local shops
more interaction between community members
higher profits for farmers and lower prices for consumers
With the globalisation of food systems, the distance between
producers and consumers grows as the production, marketing
and distribution of food become increasingly centralised and
controlled by ever fewer giant corporations.
and middlemen take an ever greater proportion of the prices
paid by consumers in the globalising food system. In the USA,
for example, farmers get an increasingly
smaller slice of the pie
Fewer and bigger supermarket chains now tend to dominate the
food market, turning food into a global “commodity”.