Q. What do you understand by agrobiodiversity? Examine its significance in light of climate change, sustainable agriculture and poverty. (250 words)01 Jan, 2020 GS Paper 3 Bio-diversity & Environment
- Define Agrobiodiversity.
- Mention its significance for climate change, sustainable agriculture and poverty.
Agrobiodiversity (agricultural + biological + diversity) refers to the full range of diversity of life present in agricultural settings, from mammals to microbes and everything in between.
The concept of agrobiodiversity has been put forth as a way to incorporate aspects of natural settings into agriculturally productive systems.
Need for preserving agrobiodiversity
- Environmental pollution has caused loss of diversity in natural ecosystems
- Use of chemical fertilizers, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) has created an imbalance in biogeochemical cycles.
- Billions of people live in poverty who are relatively more dependent on natural ecosystems and agriculture.
- Crop rotation is a relatively simpler way to maintain high levels of agrobiodiversity. Intercropping is another. Agrobiodiversity increases productivity, makes farming systems more stable, robust, and sustainable.
- Reduces the pressure of agriculture on fragile areas, forests and endangered species.
- Increases food security, and economic returns.
- Contributes to sound pest and disease management.
- Conserves soil and increase natural soil fertility and health.
- Reduces dependency on external inputs..
- Conserves ecosystem structure and stability of species diversity.
- Agrobiodiversity can help in nutrition-sensitive farming and bio-fortified foods.
- Provides sources of medicines and vitamins.
- This diversity can be leveraged to provide nutritious, affordable, locally available food to vulnerable and poor communities. India can achieve SDG 2 (Zero Hunger) and the Aichi Biodiversity Targets.
- Use of chemicals in agriculture contributes to emission of greenhouse gases (GHGs) during manufacturing.
- Agrobiodiversity would help in reducing vulnerability to extreme weather conditions by enhancing adaptability, resilience through restoration of traditional systems of food production, collection and water harvesting. It can result in the revival of traditional practices which are locally best suited. It can also result in new practices which can enhance adaptability and resilience.
- For Ex. in Rajasthan, the efforts of local communities resulted in revival of traditional methods of water harvesting and Avari river.
Challenges to Agrobiodiversity
- Loss of crop genetic resources due to adopting new crop varieties without conserving traditional varieties.
- Similarly, Crossbreeding of foreign breeds with indigenous breeds leads to erosion of genetically diverse pool.
- About 7,000 plant species have historically been used in human diets. But, today only 30 crops form the basis of the world’s agriculture.
There is a need for preserving agrobiodiversity in the backdrop of climate change, poverty and related challenges to humanity. Ecologically sensitive farming which can be done by conserving crop wild relatives of cereals, millets, oilseeds, fruits/vegetables, etc is the need of the hour. Incentives should be provided to farmers cultivating native varieties and those conserving indigenous breeds of livestock and poultry varieties. Community seed banks should be encouraged in each agro-climatic zone. India should also have a national policy on invasive alien species to control and eradicate invasive species.