“Carrying out superficial repairs to our existing food systems will no longer suffice. We need disruptive change within and across today’s varied and complex food systems. To be sustainable, food system policy choices must focus on environmental as well as nutritional and health consequences.” This was the stark warning from experts at the 44th Session of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS44) in October 2017.
That this disruptive change needs to include agricultural biodiversity was the central message in Bioversity International’s flagship book published this year. Mainstreaming Agrobiodiversity in Sustainable Food Systems: Scientific Foundations for an Agrobiodiversity Index presents the most recent scientific evidence on how to use agricultural biodiversity in diets and in production systems to help achieve sustainable food systems.
In Bioversity International's 2017 Annual Report, we celebrate our science, our partners, and how #agrobiodiversity nourishes people and sustains the planet @JMartonLefevre @AnnTutwiler @BioversityInt
Agricultural biodiversity is the variety and variability of animals, plants and micro-organisms that are used directly or indirectly for food and agriculture.
Bioversity International's vision is that agricultural biodiversity nourishes people and sustains the planet. Our mission is to deliver scientific evidence, management practices and policy options to use and safeguard agricultural and tree biodiversity to attain sustainable global food and nutrition security. Below are some research highlights from 2017 linked to our four strategic objectives which are to diversify diets, production systems, seeds and planting material, and to safeguard agricultural biodiversity.
In the research highlights section of the Annual Report, you will find ten stories based on scientific papers produced by Bioversity International scientists working with partners.
These highlights represent just a small selection of the 169 papers produced in 2017.
Bioversity International works with partners around the world including a wide range of funders and research partners who share our vision and mission to deliver scientific evidence, management practices and policy options to use and safeguard agricultural and tree biodiversity to attain sustainable global food and nutrition security.
Bioversity International is proud to be a CGIAR Research Centre. We participate in six CGIAR Research Programs and two Platforms supported by CGIAR Trust Fund members in close collaboration with the other 14 CGIAR Centres and hundreds of partner organizations, including national and regional research institutes, civil society organizations, academia and the private sector.
We thank all of our partners for their critical and continued support.
Mobilizing funds for international agricultural research remains challenging. Nonetheless, Bioversity International’s overall revenue from bilateral grants has grown by 21% since 2012 – the highest level of bilateral funding ever! We thank all of our funders for their critical and continued support.
In 2017, our relationships with the governments of Belgium, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Peru and Switzerland were further strengthened. Our partnerships with multilateral organizations keen to mainstream agrobiodiversity in sustainable food systems such as the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), European Commission (EC), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and UN Environment and the Global Environment Facility have also been strengthened, as has our support from foundations. These commitments are complemented by many other supporters of our work who are listed in this report.
We would also like to highlight important additional in-kind contributions of facilities and experts from Belgium’s Katholieke Universiteit of Leuven and the governments of China, Germany, India, and Italy among others. We estimate the value of in-kind contributions amounted to at least $5 million in 2017.
For more information, download our 2017 Financial Statements
Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias
M. Ann Tutwiler
Douglas van den Aardweg
Bioversity International created a UK registered charity (no. 1131854) in October 2008 to increase awareness and support for its research agenda and activities. Bioversity International UK is governed by an independent Board of Trustees.
M. Ann Tutwiler
Bioversity International USA, Inc aims to engage and inspire a wide range of partners and donors to ensure that agricultural biodiversity nourishes people and sustains the planet. It is led by a committed and highly regarded Board of Trustees:
M. Ann Tutwiler
Writing: Arwen Bailey, Jeremy Cherfas, Samantha Collins, Mirna Franic, Marta Millere, with contributions from many of our scientists
Contributors: Nora Capozio, Oonagh Darby, Maria Garruccio, Karen Harmann, Annie Huie, Allison Poulos
Design: Pablo Gallo
Web Editor: Carol Blay
Project Manager: Samantha Collins
Careful analysis and amalgamation of dietary data sets has brought to light a much-needed and validated food biodiversity indicator capable of evaluating, for the first time, the positive correlation between agricultural biodiversity and diet quality.
Biodiversity is essential for both human nutrition and sustainable food systems. The proper management and use of it – both cultivated and wild – can improve resilience of ecosystems and diet quality of vulnerable populations.
To monitor progress in achieving healthy and environmentally sustainable diets, researchers must be able to measure the direct relationship between biodiversity in the landscape and biodiversity in the diets, and subsequently diet quality. However, the indicators used so far are not validated from a nutritional point of view.
Bioversity International scientists and partners set out to uncover a cross-cutting metric to simultaneously measure food biodiversity in diets and help guide interventions to improve human and environmental health.
The Sustainable Development Goals contain targets committed to ending malnutrition and to the sustainable management of terrestrial ecosystems. Though under one single goal to combat hunger, these two targets still separate agriculture and nutrition. One reason is that until recently there has not been an indicator that captures both domains simultaneously. “It really reflects the current global disconnect that exists between the two dimensions even though they are part of achieving the same goal,” comments Jessica Raneri, Nutrition Research Specialist, Bioversity International.
The available dietary and ecological indicators that we have are not designed to assess the intricate relationship that exists between food diversity and diet quality. The diet diversity score and food variety score measure the diversity of unique food groups and food items consumed, respectively, but neither captures the biological contribution of diverse plant and animal species to human diets. Researchers had previously applied the nutritional functional diversity score, which measures the diversity of the nutritional traits of foods in a landscape, to diets to assess the contribution of different food source outlets, but without validating its relationship with dietary quality.
Researchers examined dietary data from 6,226 women and children in rural areas of seven low and middle-income countries.* Three different ecological measures of biodiversity commonly used to help evaluate the sustainability of landscapes – nutritional functional diversity (diversity in nutrient composition), species richness (a count of species), Simpson’s index (number of species and amount consumed of each) – were used as food biodiversity indicators. These were applied to data collected with the dietary recall method, which assesses foods eaten during a 24-hour period across two different seasons. The results were then evaluated against diet quality using micronutrient adequacy and diet diversity scores.
Micronutrient adequacy – an indicator of diet quality – was similar for children and women, and along with diet diversity and food biodiversity indicators, was comparable across two seasons. Further, micronutrient adequacy significantly increased with every additional species consumed. Interestingly, researchers found that 40% to 58% of species consumed (depending on the season) were unique to each country, demonstrating the importance of local biodiversity to diets.
The assessments demonstrated that all three biodiversity indicators had a positive correlation with micronutrient adequacy. Species richness showed a stronger and more consistent association and is more easily calculated than Simpson’s index and nutritional functional diversity. Therefore, the scientists recommend dietary species richness as the most appropriate measure of food biodiversity in diets.
Moreover, joining the diet diversity score and dietary species richness, or combining food-group diversity and food biodiversity concepts, was shown to provide a more comprehensive assessment of diet quality and improved the chances of predicting an adequate diet for women, than when utilizing the dietary diversity score alone.
“Food system sustainability, biodiversity and nutrition are current hot topics, yet we didn’t actually have any validated indicators that could measure the nexus between these three. Now we do,” Raneri summarized.
Researchers have found a validated metric to support what was long believed to be the case: food biodiversity contributes to diet quality in vulnerable populations in biodiverse regions. Dietary species richness can now be used for further data collection and integration to expand the current body of evidence to help identify where and how food systems could be improved.
An important next step would be to record the source of each food item in order to assess the extent that locally available agrobiodiversity, in contrast to imported species, contributes to the diversity of diets. Further assessments on how dietary species richness holds up in food systems where there is a higher contribution of processed foods is also warranted.
* Benin, Cameroon, DR Congo, Ecuador, Kenya, Sri Lanka, Vietnam
'Dietary species richness as a measure of food biodiversity and nutritional quality of diets'
This paper was co-authored by Bioversity International scientists Jessica E. Raneri, Gina Kennedy, Danny Hunter, Francis Oduor Odhiambo, Gervais Ntandou-Bouzitou, Roseline Remans and Céline Termote, with partners from Ghent University in Belgium, Czech University of Life Sciences, Escuela Superior Politecnica del Litoral in Ecuador, University of Ruhuna in Sri Lanka and HealthBridge Foundation of Canada in Vietnam.
Citation:Lachat, Lachat, C.; Raneri, J.E.; Walker Smith, K.; Kolsteren, P.; van Damm, P.; Verzelen, K.; Penafiel, D.; Vanhove, W.; Kennedy, G.; Hunter, D.; Oduor Odhiambo, F.; Ntandou-Bouzitou, G.; De Baets, B.; Ratnasekera, D.; The Ky, H.; Remans, R.; Termote, C. (2017) Dietary species richness as a measure of food biodiversity and nutritional quality of diets. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. Online first paper (18DEC17) ISSN: 0027-8424; http://hdl.handle.net/10568/89861
New study uncovers an important measure of a healthy diet that connects #agrobodiversity with diet quality. Introducing dietary species richness. #Nutrition @A4NH_CGIAR @BioversityInt
“#FoodSystem sustainability, #biodiversity and #nutrition are current hot topics, yet we didn’t actually have any validated indicators that could measure the nexus between these three. Now we do” @Jessica_Raneri
This research is part of the CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH) and is supported by CGIAR Trust Fund Donors. Additional support was provided by the Carasso Foundation.
The following sources funded studies from which the data was used: Benin: Ministry of Foreign Affairs Finland (FoodAfrica project); Cameroon and Ecuador: Flemish Interuniversity Council; Congo: Flemish Interuniversity Council, Leopold III fund for Nature Exploration and Conservation, and Stichting Roeping; Sri Lanka: Global Environment facility, United Nations Environmental Programme, Food and Agriculture Organization, and Bioversity International; and Kenya and Vietnam: Humidtropics and A4NH CRPs. R.R. received a grant from Daniel and Nina Carasso Foundation for research on nutrition-sensitive landscapes.