Food Security & Dietary Health

Livelihood Security & Freedom from Poverty

Food Security & Dietary Health

Emerging Infectious Disease

Natural Products & Medicinal Resources

Disaster Prevention, Relief & Recovery

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Seaweed farm in Zanzibar, East Africa
Agricultural biodiversity is vital to the food security of billions of people worldwide. Utilising and enhancing this diversity can play an important role in addressing diseases related to poor dietary health, including malnutrition, obesity, cardio-vascular disorders, diabetes and cancers, as well as promoting livelihood sustainability and improving environmental quality.

Agricultural biodiversity includes the entire variety of living things associated with agriculture, including the plant and animal species used for food, and the other organisms, habitats and ecosystems which support food production. Food production systems that conserve and encourage biodiversity often produce higher yields, and support crops which are naturally more resistant to climatic extremes and diseases than strict monocultures in intensively farmed landscapes. Utilising and enhancing biodiversity, particularly in the development of indigenous breeds, can have significant benefits for local economies and rural livelihoods.

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Crop patterns in terraced fields, Phillipines
Agricultural biodiversity is likely to become increasingly important for food security as the effects of climate change become more pronounced and widespread. Climate change presents particular threats to food production systems and to animal and plant health, through impacts on weather patterns, soil quality, pollinators, the availability of clean water, and the distribution of pest species and infectious diseases. Enhancing the diversity of food crops, and ensuring the success of measures to conserve unmanaged agricultural biodiversity, can not only provide real economic and social benefits in the short term, but can also help the agricultural sector adapt to climate change and protect crop and livestock health in the longer term.

In devising and implementing national development strategies and agriculture policies, governments should ensure that the genetic and species diversity of agricultural produce is preserved and improved, that the ecosystems which support food production are conserved, and that the importance of dietary diversity based on crop and livestock varieties is explained and promoted to producers and consumers.

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