What is Agro-biodiversity & Why Do We Need to Care

Agrobiodiversity is the result of the interaction between the environment, resources and management systems used by culturally diverse peoples. The resources such as land and water are used in different ways for production by people.

Agro-biodiversityIn this way, agro biodiversity affects the variability of plants, animals and micro-organisms that are necessary for sustaining of the agro-ecosystem. It also includes structure and processes for food production and food security. Local culture can be considered as the main and integral parts of agro biodiversity as they have shaped it and continuously conserving this biodiversity.

Many people’s food security depends on the sustained management of different biological resources. Agrobiodiversity is mainly depends on the inventive developments of farmers, natural selection processes, fishers and herders and vital sub-set of biodiversity.

Agricultural biodiversity or agro biodiversity for food and agriculture includes harvested species and non-harvested species.

Harvested species:

Harvested crops, livestock breeds, variety of fish species, field animals, forest wild resources, and rangeland including wild animals, tree products, hunted for food and aquatic ecosystems.

Non-harvested species:

Non-harvested species support food provision, soil micro-biota, pollinators and other insects such as butterflies, bees, earthworms, and green flies.

Distinctive Features of Agro-biodiversity, Compared to Other Components of Biodiversity:

1) Agrobiodiversity is managed by male and female farmers.

2) It is also true that many components would not survive without human interference and local knowledge.

3) Crop diversity is as important as diversity between species.

4) ‘Alien’ crop or livestock species are economically important agricultural systems. It creates a high interdependence between countries for the genetic food systems resources.

5) Human management has played a distinct role in the conservation of agrobiodiversity in production systems.

Why Do We Need to Care for Agro Biodiversity?

There are many reasons to preserve the agrobiodiversity. Some are given below.

1) To manage pests and diseases, Agricultural biodiversity can provide a cost-effective way for farmers. Diversity allows farmers to limit the use of chemical pests and diseases.

2) Agricultural biodiversity is the foundation of agriculture and the source of genetic material. According to the study, more than 940 species of cultivated plants are threatened globally. With the loss of diversity within a species, we also lose important genes for improving crops that help in promoting their resistance to pests and diseases.

3) With Agricultural biodiversity, farmers can manage climate risks and extreme weather events. Agricultural biodiversity provides more crop options that help buffer the effects of extreme circumstances like droughts or floods.

4) Agricultural biodiversity also plays an important role in sustaining food, soil health, and habitat for pollinators and natural pest predators.

Different crop species require different soil, different minerals, and amounts of water to thrive in. Traditional farming techniques such as crop rotation ensure that the soil has time to regenerate the health over the time. Diverse crops attract and sustain pollinators that contribute to approximately 80% of crops traded worldwide and also provide natural pest predators that save the cost of pesticides to the farmers.

5) More than 5,500 plant species have been used for human food in the world and Agricultural biodiversity is contributing to give enough nutrition and health. Nutrient content varies among species.

6) Traditional culture and knowledge are often based on local species diversity and Agricultural biodiversity has a major role in maintaining it.

You can read the highlights of first ever international Agro Biodiversity Congress (IAC), 2016’s declaration.

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