Note from the United Nations System High Level Task Force on Global Food Security
Large-scale international investments in developing country agriculture, especially acquisitions of agricultural land, continue to raise international concern. Certainly, complex and controversial issues – economic, political, institutional, legal and ethical – are raised in relation to food security, poverty reduction, rural development, technology and access to land and water resources. Yet at the same time, some developing countries are making strenuous efforts to attract foreign investment into their agricultural sectors. They see an important role for such investments in filling the gap left by dwindling official development assistance and the limitations of their own domestic budgetary resources, creating employment and incomes and promoting technology transfer. More investment is certainly needed – more than US$80 billion per year according to FAO analysis. But can foreign direct investment be compatible with the needs of local stakeholders as well as those of the international investor? And can these investments yield more general development benefits?
One of the key challenges of the 21st century is developing ways of producing sufficient amounts of food while protecting both environmental quality and the economic well-being of rural communities. Over the last half century, conventional approaches to crop production have relied heavily on manufactured fertilizers and pesticides to increase yields, but they have also degraded water quality and posed threats to human health and wildlife. Consequently, attention is now being directed toward the development of crop production systems with improved resource use efficiencies and more benign effects on the environment. Less attention has been paid to developing better methods of pest management, especially for weeds. Here we explore the potential benefits of diversifying cropping systems as a means of controlling weed population dynamics while simultaneously enhancing other desirable agroecosystem processes. We focus on crop rotation, an approach to cropping system diversification whereby different species are placed in the same field at different times.
With over 1,150 bat species worldwide – representing about twenty percent of the
biodiversity of all mammalian species – they carry out important ecological and agricultural
functions such pollination and dispersion of seeds. And while many tropical plant species
depend entirely on bats for the distribution of their seeds, it is true that in the tropics bats
can also be carriers of important diseases such as rabies, mokola, duvenhage, hendra or
nipah viruses. These are the ones we know of today, but some 40 years ago, all we knew
was about rabies. Is there more we should be doing?
This manual, “Investigating the role of bats in emerging zoonoses: Balancing ecology,
conservation and public health interests” is an introduction to the complex issues associated
with a One Health approach to understanding the biology and ecological importance of
bats, and the drivers of zoonotic disease emergence from bats to people. As an introduction,
this manual will provide a basis for understanding the need to balance natural resource
management, disease surveillance, prevention and control.