Agricultural biodiversity plays a huge role in maintaining resilient local economies, balanced diets and balanced ecosystems. The rapid disappearance of agricultural biodiversity and the lack of measures to protect it are therefore great causes of concern.
Mainstream agricultural policies, which generally promote monoculture agriculture, Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and Intellectual Property Rights threaten such agricultural biodiversity, having an impact on agricultural landscapes, species, varieties, breeds, the wild relatives of crops and livestock, pollinators, micro-organisms and genes. These policies and practices lead to the disappearance of plant and animal species, and the knowledge embedded in their management and use.
The good news is that in recent years many promising initiatives have been launched around the world that aim to preserve and manage agricultural biodiversity. Small-scale family farmers often play a central role in these, acting as custodians of biodiversity. But other actors and institutions also play important roles. Producers, public and private institutions and consumers are reconnecting with each other through innovative market arrangements, many of them at local or regional level. Farmers and researchers are taking up joint research initiatives, and farmers’ organisations are engaging in dialogues with policymakers, pushing for policies that enhance agrobiodiversity.
Issue 30.1 of Farming Matters will look at these emerging initiatives and at the insights gained from the efforts to up-scale these experiences. We particularly aim to explore the factors that help breaking the glasshouse that is preventing the expansion and mainstreaming of such ideas and practices.
The topics we will look at will include the revitalisation of local seed systems and indigenous livestock breeds at a large scale; the market mechanisms and policies that support agrobiodiversity; farmers’ innovations and the role of knowledge and information networks. As 2014 will be the International Year of Family Farming this edition will also explore the close interconnection between agricultural biodiversity and family farming.
This issue will be produced in collaboration with agrobiodiversity@knowledged, the Hivos/Oxfam Novib Knowledge Programme. Articles for the March 2014 issue of Farming Matters should be sent to the editor, Jorge Chavez-Tafur, before December 1st, 2013. E-mail: email@example.com