To manage agrobiodiversity, we need to measure it
“This innovative tool responds to the need for a standardized way to measure agrobiodiversity. It will help governments, development partners, investors and companies to evaluate risks and seize opportunities in food and agriculture,” explained Roseline Remans, one of the principal investigators behind the Agrobiodiversity Index, during the webinar.
The Index helps understand how agrobiodiversity contributes to healthy diets, sustainable production and genetic resource conservation. The tool is essential to capture the status of agricultural biodiversity in a country – that is the current state of diversity of crops, livestock and pollinators at different levels (varietal, species, farm, landscape and ecosystem) – as well as commitments and actions to use it, protect it, conserve it and boost it.
“To measure the status of agrobiodiversity, we look at globally available data from different sources, including databases from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN and the Global Biodiversity Information Facility”, said Remans. “For commitments, we review national policies and guidelines that impact agrobiodiversity, such as national Agricultural and Biodiversity Strategic Plans. And for actions, we look at progress on implementing practices that support agrobiodiversity, based on FAO guidelines, such as percentage of land under agroforestry or in mixed crop–livestock systems,” she continued.
What does the Index tell us about agrobiodiversity in Peru?
When it comes to the Status “the Index shows high levels of agrobiodiversity in Peru, particularly in food supply and genetic resource conservation,” said Sarah Jones, co-principal investigator of the Index. Some Commitments and Actions are in place in Peru, both in the public and private sector sphere, to use and conserve agrobiodiversity. The Ministry of Agriculture for example supports smallholder farmers through the recognition of agrobiodiversity zones, and the creation of the National Centre for Genetic Resources of Agrobiodiversity.
The private sector can also play a part. Agricultural biodiversity not only helps companies to respond to consumer’s interest in new flavours and nutritious foods, but it is also a strategy to manage operational risks that could make value chains more resilient, for example to price fluctuations and disease outbreaks that affect specific crops or varieties.