Agricultural BiodiversityApril 30, 2019 2019-04-30 6:31
What is agricultural biodiversity?
Agriculture was first developed around 10000 years ago and biodiversity enabled evolution of farming systems. Biodiversity and agriculture are strongly interrelated in a way that biodiversity forms the basis of agriculture and agriculture promotes conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. An amalgamation of agriculture and biodiversity, in its broader sense includes all components of biodiversity in relation to food and agriculture, agricultural ecosystems, its structure and processes. It acts as source of income by providing food, and raw materials for food, fuel, shelter and herbs. Also, it conserves soil and water, maintains soil fertility and flora thus supporting life.
Genetic diversity helps species adapt to changing environment conditions and confer resistance against various stress conditions such as extreme temperatures, water retention and diseases. As a result of cumulative effect of both natural selection and human inventive, agricultural biodiversity portrays the interactions among the environment, genetic resources, management systems and agricultural practices.
What are the dimensions of agricultural biodiversity?
The identified dimensions of agricultural biodiversity are:
- Genetic resources for food and agriculture that includes plant, animal, microbial genetic resources those constitute the core units of production in agriculture
- Components of biodiversity which support ecosystem
- Abiotic factors which include physical and chemical factors and structure of ecosystems
- Socio-economic and cultural factors which include activities and management practices
What are the challenges facing agricultural biodiversity?
Modern agriculture has evolved from time to time to meet the ever increasing demand of growing population coupled with changing production and consumption patterns. This led to an increase in the food production and improved food security meanwhile causing considerable damage to biodiversity. In the last few decades, the world has witnessed an unprecedented loss of biodiversity in all the ecosystems including agriculture ecosystems. It has been estimated that about three quarters of the agricultural genetic diversity has been lost over the last century.
The main challenges agriculture counters in relation with biodiversity are sustenance of agricultural biodiversity and ecosystem services and lessening the negative impacts of agricultural systems and practices on biodiversity. There are various factors that contribute to the loss of biodiversity in agriculture and other ecosystems. They include direct drivers such as climatic changes and availability of natural resources, land-use changes and indirect drivers such as demography, economy, socio politics and science and technology.
What needs to be done?
The following measures help address the challenges discussed above:
- Assessing the current status and future trends of the worlds agricultural biodiversity
- Understanding the original causes of these changes and gaining knowledge of management practices
- Identifying management techniques and practices that can be adapted to bring about the change
- Increasing awareness and promoting the plan of action
- Bringing into practice the plans and strategies for the conservation and sustainable use of agricultural biodiversity into relevant sectors
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