What is it about?
Agricultural biodiversity is dynamically managed by smaller-scale food providers, who have co-evolved with their crops and livestock and agroecosystems over millennia. It encompasses not only the species directly harvested for food etc. but also all the support species that provide essential ecosystem functions, which support the productive environment.
Agricultural biodiversity increased over millennia with the movement of peoples across the globe. However, more recently with the rampant spread of the industrial production of commodities, livestock and fisheries, agricultural biodiversity is haemorrhaging.
Yet, it is the smaller-scale food providers – the world’s peasants – who provide nourishment for most people in the world through their biodiverse and ecologically-resilient production systems, developed in the framework of food sovereignty, who sustain agricultural biodiversity. Their production systems enhance agricultural biodiversity and enable it to adapt to changes in agroecosystems due to climate change and other threats.
This article calls for the breaking of the value chains which bind industrial producers to unsustainable and biodiversity-destroying production and consumption systems. It also calls for the protection of the rights of smaller-scale, biodiversity-enhancing food providers whose localised food webs developed in the framework of food sovereignty will continue to provide food for most people today and tomorrow as well as sustaining and enhancing agricultural biodiversity for future generations.
Why is it important?
Localised peasant production provides food for more than 70% of the world’s population. The agricultural biodiversity they dynamically manage underpins peasant agroecology and is regenerated by these ecologically-resilient production systems, developed in the framework of food sovereignty. Sustaining agricultural biodiversity is vital in confronting climate change and other threats and securing food supplies now and for future generations.
This article contributes to the awareness of the importance of the agricultural biodiversity and the key role that small-scale producers are playing in dynamically managing it – in situ, above and below ground and in waters – in their ecological production systems.