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January 2002

Agrobiodiversity, food security and HIV/AIDS mitigation in Sub-Saharan Africa

Strategic issues for agricultural policy and programme responses

by Josep A. Garí
Consultant, Population and Development Service
e-mail: josep.gari@fao.org / jgari@nimbus.geog.ox.ac.uk

The author is grateful to comments from Florence Egal, Jacques du Guerny, Robert Lettington, Landon Myer, and Marcela Villarreal.

At the time this concept paper is released, the author is conducting field research on this topic in Uganda and Tanzania, as part of FAO's efforts in building the agricultural sector strategy for HIV/AIDS.

Food insecurity and the impact of HIV/AIDS are priority concerns for rural development throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. This paper explores strategic components for the agricultural sector's response to them. Special emphasis is placed upon agrobiodiversity and the closely related issue of indigenous knowledge, due to their potentially vital, yet often overlooked, roles in enhancing food security among poor rural communities, as well as in addressing evolving needs owing to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Overall, the promotion of agrobiodiversity and indigenous knowledge represents a renewed emphasis on locally available resources with value and potential to strengthen the entire agriculture-food-nutrition-health structure among the rural poor.

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