|Demand of the question
Introduction. What is agrobiodiversity?
Body. Discuss the issue of hunger in India. How biodiversity can help reducing hunger? How to increase India’s agrobiodiversity?
Conclusion. Way forward.
Agrobiodiversity can be defined as the variety and variability of plant, animals and micro-organism that are used directly or indirectly for food and agriculture. It includes all species that are closely inter-woven in an agricultural ecosystem.Agrobiodiversity, relating to diversity of crops and varietiesis crucial in food security, nutrition, health and essential in agricultural landscapes. India is ranked 102 in the Global Hunger Index (GHI) out of 117 countries which reflects India’s hunger problem which can be tackled through agrobiodiversity.
Issue of hunger in India:
- Malnutrition amongst children in India is projected to remain high, despite of all the progress made in food security.Nearly 47 million or four out of 10 children in India do not meet their potential because of chronic undernutrition or stunting. This leads to diminished learning capacity, increased chronic diseases.
- Almost one in three Indian children under five years will still be malnourished by 2022 going by current trends.
- Access to food has not increased. Food-grain yields have risen 33% over the last two decades, but are still only half of 2030 target yields
- The consumer’s access to rice, wheat and other cereals has not increased at the same rate, due to population growth, inequality, food wastage and losses, and exports.
- Despite positive trends and patterns in improving food security, the prevalence of hunger in India remains high, with many people, especially women and children, suffering from micronutrient deficiency.
Agrobiodiversity can help in resolving hunger issue:
- Genetic diversity of crops, livestock and their wild relatives, are fundamental to improve crop varieties and livestock breeds. We need crop varieties and animal breeds with the rich genetic pool that would help to provide nutrition.
- Agrobiodiversity helps nutrition-sensitive farming and bio-fortified foods. For instance, moringa (drumstick) has micro nutrients and sweet potato is rich in Vitamin A. There are varieties of pearl millet and sorghum rich in iron and zinc.
- Hunger is affecting million of peoples and a staggering 2 million people are not consuming adequate amounts of micronutrients like iron and vitamin A. Agrobiodiversity can enrich food basket and provide more nutrition to all.
- An increased variety of crop species can also transform the farm into a healthier ecosystem. For example, planting a mixture of species can increase soil nitrogen, reducing the need for inorganic fertilisers. Not having to use strong chemicals on farms will have a positive impact on the vegetation and will prevent toxicity in vegetation.
- Agrobiodiversity would help in providing tastier and healthier alternatives that can help resolving hunger issue in India.
- Agrobiodiversity is important mainly to make food more cheaper, more affordable and more accessible by providing a lot of nutritional alternatives.
Recommendations to increase India’s agrobiodiversity:
- A comprehensive policy on ‘ecological agriculture’ to enhance native pest and pollinator population providing ecosystem services for the agricultural landscape must be formulated.
- Bio-villages for ecologically sensitive farming must be promoted.
- Focus must be on conserving crop wild relatives of cereals, millets, oilseeds, fibres, forages, fruits and nuts, vegetables, spices etc. for crop genetic diversity healthier food.
- It is must to provide incentives for farmers cultivating native landrace varieties and those conserving indigenous breeds of livestock and poultry varieties.
- The community seed banks in each agro-climatic zone should be encouraged so that regional biotic properties are saved and used by new generation farmers.
- An agrobiodiversity index should be prepared, documenting traditional practices through People’s Biodiversity Registers, identifying Biodiversity Heritage Sites under provisions of the Biological Diversity Act, 2002.
- Developing a national level invasive alien species policy is required to identify pathways, mapping, monitoring, managing, controlling and eradicating the invasive species and prioritising problematic species based on risk assessment studies.
The UN Sustainable Development Goal 2 advocates for Zero Hunger and the Aichi Biodiversity Target focuses on countries conserving genetic diversity of plants, farm livestock and wild relatives. Agrobiodiversity is a viable and powerful tool that can help us produce food that is both nutritious and sustainable.