The food that we all eat daily, and which we are going to eat throughout our entire life span, comes from agricultural biodiversity. Agricultural biodiversity is an expansive term that incorporates all components of biological diversity which are relevant to agriculture and food and the term also includes the elements of biological diversity that compose agricultural ecosystems or agro-ecosystems.
There are four dimensions for agricultural biodiversity. They are:
- Components of biodiversity which support ecosystem service
- Socio-economic and cultural dimensions
- Genetic resources for food and agriculture
- Abiotic factors
Global human population is growing at a faster pace and hence the demand for food, combined with consumption and production patterns has accelerated the transformation of agriculture from traditional to modern radical systems.
While agricultural biodiversity has improved the food security by increasing food production and hence reducing poverty, agriculture has also contributed a reasonable damage to biodiversity, especially through land use conversion.
In today’s scenario, agriculture is facing two threats in relation to its biodiversity i.e. to alleviate the adverse effects of agricultural systems and practices on the biodiversity which isn’t utilized directly, whether in equivalent or different ecosystems. The next challenge is to preserve the ecosystem services and agricultural biodiversity which is provided by, and essential for agriculture.
To address these threats, different drivers of change has to be taken into account by agriculture, i.e., direct and indirect drivers. Direct drivers include natural resource availability, land-use changes, extensive use of agricultural chemicals, climate change etc. Indirect drivers comprises of demography, economy, science and technology, socio-politics etc. Each of these drivers add to the loss of biodiversity both in ecosystems and agriculture, which impose a threat to human well-being.
Agricultural biodiversity is important in order to preserve other ecosystem services, ensure proper supply of food and other raw materials, support the livelihood of the rural population, allow to adapt to the changing conditions especially climate change etc. Hence, agricultural biodiversity lays the foundation for agriculture.
We can preserve agricultural biodiversity by adopting production system management strategies, which includes keeping mulch covers from crop residues and cover crops, not disturbing soil and using natural resources like land, water, nutrients etc effectively and efficiently.