What is Crop and Crop-Associated Biodiversity?
Plant genetic resources for food and agriculture (PGRFA) interacting with other dimensions of agricultural biodiversity - in particular crop associated biodiversity - provide multiple goods and essential ecosystem services such as nutrient cycling, pest and disease regulation, pollination, and other wider ecological services such as maintenance of water quality, waste removal, soil moisture retention with reduction of runoff, water infiltration and erosion control.
Crop associated biodiversity is the sum of non-crop living organisms found in agroecosystems. This includes the range of organisms above and below ground that can harm or help agriculture, such as pests, diseases, and weeds; pollinators and biological control organisms; and the many organisms controlling nutrient cycling. Hence, crop and crop-associated biodiversity (C-CAB) is an intrinsic and important part of agricultural ecosystems, and can be planned and unplanned. Planned biodiversity includes crops and livestock purposefully introduced and maintained in an agro-ecosystem, by the farmer. Unplanned associated biodiversity includes all soil flora and fauna, herbivores, carnivores, decomposers and any other species that exist in, or colonise the agroecosystem. These diverse organisms interact with eachother, and with plants and animals, in a complex web of biologcal activity.
AGP supports FAO Members in the management, through an ecosystem approach, of crop and crop-associated biodiversity by inter alia:
- promoting wild relatives of crops, on-farm conservation and utilization of land races; and
- promoting the conservation and sustainable management of pollinators, to sustain agricultural productivity and enhance livelihoods