Mainstreaming agrobiodiversity in sustainable food systems

Mainstreaming agrobiodiversity in sustainable food systems

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Rome, Italy, 26 Dec – Bioversity International has recently published a book on mainstreaming agrobiodiversity in sustainable food systems. The book summarises evidence on the contribution of agricultural biodiversity to four interconnected dimensions: (1) diverse, healthy diets; (2) multiple benefits in sustainable farming systems; (3) seed systems delivering crop diversity for sustainable food systems; and (4) conserving agricultural biodiversity for use in sustainable food systems. The most salient aspects of each dimension with respect to agricultural biodiversity are identified and provide a starting point for identifying indicators for an Agrobiodiversity Index, which can measure agricultural biodiversity across different dimensions.
The Key Messages of the book are:
1) Food systems need to be reformed by mainstreaming agricultural biodiversity into such systems if they are to nourish people while taking care of the environment.
2) Using food biodiversity to diversify diets is a critical element in response to global malnutrition and towards sustainable food systems. Improved access, availability, affordability and acceptability of food biodiversity are key factors for achieving healthier diets.
3) Managing farming systems sustainably means that agriculture needs to be about much more than yields of commodity crops in highly simplified and specialized landscapes. Using agrobiodiversity more effectively and more sustainably can help to maintain and increase the flow of services and benefits that agricultural biodiversity provides to communities.
4) For each of the five key functions of seed systems – facilitating access, production and distribution, innovation, regulation and conservation – there is evidence for the difference a seed system makes to sustainable food systems. There is a need to measure seed system performance in terms of their contribution to wider policy goals, moving away from current policy fragmentation.
5) Only 12 crops and five animal species provide 75% of the world’s food. Yet there are 1000s of neglected plant species and varieties with potential utility for humans. They must be conserved and used. Successful conservation takes an integrated approach that safeguards the genetic diversity in places where it has evolved, backs it up in ex situ facilities for posterity, and makes it readily accessible and available for use.
6) Agricultural biodiversity is measured in many ways: healthy diets, sustainable land use, agriculture, climate change adaptation, resilience and biodiversity conservation. Bioversity International proposes the development of an Agrobiodiversity Index that brings agricultural biodiversity data together in innovative combinations across these functions in the food system to give novel insights, help countries identify policy levers, and be usable in real time to guide companies and investments.
https://www.bioversityinternational.org/fileadmin/user_upload/online_library/Mainstreaming_Agrobiodiversity/All_you_need_to_know_about_Mainstreaming_agrobiodiversity.pdf Source – Third World Network

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