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 workshop was hosted by MaeJo University in Chiang Mai (Thailand) on 26-27 June attended by representatives of 11 Universities from 8 different countries of ASEAN but also UNESCO and SEARCA. The workshop has to be seen as a stepping stone towards developing a regional project addressing Agroecology and Higher...
Thailand
Event
2019
The International Forum Relevant Territories for Sustainable Food Systems, will take place from 17 to 21 July 2019, in Portugal, in Idanha-a-Nova, is a political response capable of territorial level in the The Community of Portuguese Language Countries and in other regions. The Forum will be a plural space that will house...
Portugal
Event
2019
The objebtive of the event is to share information and practices on challenges and opportunities on Agroecology in Central Asia countries. Expected outputs:• Awareness raised on the multiples benefits agroecology can provide in Central Asia countries• Knowledge and practices on agroecology among the stakeholders shared• Priority for the agenda in the...
Event
2019
The first dialogue on Agroecology in Central Asian countries was held in Bishkek on August 28, 2019. Over the three days workshop, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), together with representatives from a number of agencies and experts from Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkey and others, discussed...
Kyrgyzstan
Event
2019
The group ‘’Jornada de Agroecología’’ composed by a wide range of actors committed to agroecology celebrate this event for defending a land free of transgenics and no pesticides. The care of the land, the culture of biodiversity, food sovereignty, and the construction of the popular project for agriculture are other principles...
Brazil
Event
2019