What is Agrobiodiversity?
Agrobiodiversity is defined as the variety of animals, plants, and micro-organisms that are used directly or indirectly for food and agriculture. It also includes the diversity of non-harvested species that support production (soil micro-organisms, predators, and pollinators).
Agrobiodiversity is the result of the numerous natural and ‘unnatural’ interactions that occur in the agricultural environment, including the impact of practices used by culturally diverse people. When we disturb the natural order of the environment by eliminating species through eradication, destruction of habitat, removal of food sources, etc. the effects of this interruption to the natural order may be detrimental- impacting not only a single species, but an entire ecosystem.
Benefits of Agrobiodiversity
A diverse agricultural environment fosters beneficial relationships among organisms. Diverse and balanced ecosystems are equipped with natural regulatory mechanisms that will allow beneficial species to thrive, translating into less work for the farmer, less money invested into correcting unbalanced ecosystems, and less opportunities for the misuse and overuse of chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
By educating farmers and students on the importance of Agrobiodiversity they can:
- Improve nutrition and food security
- Increase productivity and economic return
- Make farming systems more reliable and sustainable
- Reduce the impact of agriculture on vulerable environments, especially forests and endangered species
- Contribute to safe pest control and disease management
- Conserve soil and naturally increase soil fertility
- Contribute to sustainable intensification
- Diversify products and income opportunities by discouraging monocropping or overdependence on ‘cash crops’
- Practice responsible use of resources and the environment to safeguard against the impacts of climate change
- Conserve or restore indigenous species, specifically medical plants and herbs and other local species