Agroecology Knowledge Hub

Diversity: diversification is key to agroecological transitions to ensure food security and nutrition while conserving, protecting and enhancing natural resources

Agroecological systems are highly diverse. From a biological perspective, agroecological systems optimize the diversity of species and genetic resources in different ways. For example, agroforestry systems organize crops, shrubs, livestock and trees of different heights and shapes at different levels or strata, increasing vertical diversity. Intercropping combines complementary species to increase spatial diversity. Crop rotations, often including legumes, increase temporal diversity. Crop–livestock systems rely on the diversity of local breeds adapted to specific environments. In the aquatic world, traditional fish polyculture farming, Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture (IMTA) or rotational crop-fish systems follow the same principles to maximising diversity.

Increasing biodiversity contributes to a range of production, socio-economic, nutrition and environmental benefits. By planning and managing diversity, agroecological approaches enhance the provisioning of ecosystem services, including pollination and soil health, upon which agricultural production depends. Diversification can increase productivity and resource-use efficiency by optimizing biomass and water harvesting.

Agroecological diversification also strengthens ecological and socio-economic resilience, including by creating new market opportunities. For example, crop and animal diversity reduces the risk of failure in the face of climate change. Mixed grazing by different species of ruminants reduces health risks from parasitism, while diverse local species or breeds have greater abilities to survive, produce and maintain reproduction levels in harsh environments. In turn, having a variety of income sources from differentiated and new markets, including diverse products, local food processing and agritourism, helps to stabilize household incomes.

Consuming a diverse range of cereals, pulses, fruits, vegetables and animal-source products contributes to improved nutritional outcomes. Moreover, the genetic diversity of different varieties, breeds and species is important in contributing macronutrients, micronutrients and other bioactive compounds to human diets. For example, in Micronesia, reintroducing an underutilized traditional variety of orange-fleshed banana with 50 times more beta-carotene than the widely available commercial white-fleshed banana proved instrumental in improving health and nutrition.

At the global level, three cereal crops provide close to 50 percent of all calories consumed, while the genetic diversity of crops, livestock, aquatic animals and trees continues to be rapidly lost. Agroecology can help reverse these trends by managing and conserving agro-biodiversity, and responding to the increasing demand for a diversity of products that are eco-friendly. One such example is ‘fish-friendly’ rice produced from irrigated, rainfed and deepwater rice ecosystems, which values the diversity of aquatic species and their importance for rural livelihoods.

Database

The overall objective of the Congress is to discuss the progress of agroforestry science and practices with the objective to bridge the science-policy gap. Agroforestry facts and figures from developing and developed countries will be presented and discussed by a wide a range of stakeholders: researchers, policy makers, farmers, donors, government...
France
Event
2019
The Superior Agricultural School of Coimbra will hold this Conference organized by the Portuguese Association of Biological Agriculture (AGROBIO). Particularly, the conference will take place over two days. The first day will be focused on biological agriculture, legal framework, marketing and consumption of organic products. In the second day, both...
Portugal
Event
2019
PELUM Uganda is organising a 2-day National Agroecology Actors Symposium (NAAS 1) as the first of its kind in the country. The event, which will be held from 30th to 31st May at Silver springs Hotel in Bugolobi, Kampala will bring together various stakeholders ranging from farmers, private sector, research...
Uganda
Event
2019
With the Scaling Up Agroecology Initiative by FAO, there is drive for sharing enough evidence of how application of knowledge and practices of agroecology are creating impact to inform policy and continued wide-scale application by farmers. The “Global Advocacy Project(GAP) 2017-2020” implemented by Biovision Africa Trust (BvAT) and PELUM Kenya, funded...
Kenya
Event
2019
  IFOAM EU is an independent regional group within the IFOAM Organics International that contributes to shaping and implementing Community agricultural, environmental, health and consumer policies and regulation in a number of ways. In addition, advocates for the development and integrity of European organic food and farming and fight for the adoption of...
Romania
Event
2019