FSN Forum

DISCUSSION No. 149   •   FSN Forum digest No. 1345

Mainstreaming Biodiversity in Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry for improved Food Security and better Nutrition

until 27 May 2018

iconHow to participate

Send your contribution to
or post it on the
FSN Forum website www.fao.org/fsnforum


Dear Members,

The online consultation Mainstreaming Biodiversity in Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry for improved Food Security and better Nutrition keeps attracting comments and we are happy to share the latest ones with you below.

In this digest you will also find a first comment by the facilitators of this exchange Irene Hoffmann and Paulo Augusto Lourenco Dias Nunes from FAO.

We remind you that your insights will help FAO gather information for the upcoming Multi-stakeholder Dialogue on Biodiversity Mainstreaming across Agricultural Sectors.

In this context we are looking for examples of cases where biodiversity is contributing to achieving food security and improved nutrition, and where sustainable production systems helped preserve biodiversity. We would also like to hear your views on the enabling environments that prompt farmers and institutions to adopt practices that take advantage of biodiversity while at the same time protecting it.

Please read the full topic introduction on the FSN Forum's website. The information is also available in French and Spanish on the discussion webpage.

To take part, post your comment online on the FSN Forum or send it to FSN-moderator@fao.org.

We thank those who already contributed and look forward to the continuation of this exchange!

Your FSN Forum team

Irene Hoffmann & Paulo Augusto Lourenco Dias Nunes, facilitators of the discussion

Dear Members of the Forum,

Thank you for your contributions. You raise very important points in relation to mainstreaming of biodiversity in agriculture, fisheries and forestry for improved food security and better nutrition. Also, thank you for pointing to specific examples from India, Nigeria, French Polynesia, Tanzania, Nepal, USA, Benin, Iran, Colombia and others. 

Thank you also for pointing out that the mainstreaming of biodiversity across agricultural sectors will be only possible if the adoption of good practices across all agricultural sectors will support biodiversity conservation as well as increasing the productivity, stability and resilience of production systems. It is therefore fundamental to take advantage from lessons learned in raising awareness at the institutional level as well as involving all relevant stakeholders, including farming communities, to ensure effective practices in mainstreaming biodiversity.

Some contributions mention that biodiversity mainstreaming takes place in landscapes and seascapes and targets two groups of biodiversity, the ‘wild’ one that is used by fisheries and forestry, and the ‘domesticated’ that is used in crop and livestock agriculture”, and that management approaches and stakeholders differ between those groups. Others mention the importance of traditional knowledge of farming communities, but also the need for new knowledge and capacity development, in order to make practices more sustainable. Legislation and favourable market conditions are mentioned as supporting mechanisms.

The link between mainstreaming of biodiversity in agricultural sectors for food security and better nutrition is key. Here, we invite you to further reflect on what change/ type of coordination is needed to connect biodiversity with policies and legislation from different sectors (Education, Health, Agriculture, Gender) to enhance food security and nutrition. Also, how can food value chains prioritize biodiversity in different areas to diversified supply of domestic and exportable products contributing to food security and nutrition?

Ultimately, success will be associated with joining forces with other sectors (e.g. public health, education) and partners (e.g. UN agencies, NGOs etc.) with the ultimate objective of developing an alternative, transformational change towards sustainable food systems, including further guidance on the concept of “sustainability” in food and agriculture with regard to biodiversity.

We look forward to reading more of your contributions during the next week of this discussion.

Paulo Augusto and Irene


iconMostafa Jafari, RIFR/ IPCC/ TPS for LFCCs, Iran

Mostafa highlights the differences between agricultural sectors and hence the different implications for biodiversity. While fishery and forestry mainly rely on natural species, agriculture relies on species that have been bred over the past centuries. At the same time, Mostafa reminds us of the important role that invertebrates play in ensuring sustainable food production.

Read the contribution

iconRony Trujillo, Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala & Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative, Guatemala

Rony presents two possible scenarios regarding the link between biodiversity and food security in Guatemala. First, without access to some forest products (food plants and bush meat), the percentage of malnourished children in the country would be even worse. Second, the chronic malnutrition epidemic is being exacerbated by deforestation and land use change. 

Read the contribution

iconJaishanker Nair, IIITM-Kerala, India

Jaishanker argues that the lack of success in dealing with biodiversity partially stems from the inherent vagueness embodied in the concept. Hence, an objective representation of biodiversity is pivotal to achieve measurable policies and strategies. 

Read the contribution

iconJoseph George Ray, Mahatma Gandhi University, India

Joseph states that organic farming systems, as practiced, for instance, in domestic farms in Kerala/India, help protect the diversity of crops as well as soil fertility.
He also identifies consumer awareness and the inclusion of local players in policy making as important elements to create an environment that supports sustainable food production and that is both respectful of and conducive to biodiversity.

Read the contribution

iconEmile Houngbo, National University of Agriculture, Benin

Emile argues that contrary to what some earlier comments suggested, the importance of safeguarding agricultural biodiversity is very well known to most African family farmers. He sees this lack of understanding more widespread in agribusiness and commercial agriculture as these types of farming often lead to the drastic reduction of agro-biodiversity by focusing only on some high-value commercial crops.

Read the contribution

iconPaul Sommers, California State University, USA

Paul recalls that over the years agricultural landscapes have increasingly been simplified. He sees the main challenge in finding ways to encourage rural households to go back to rebuilding biodiverse structures that are climate-smart, resilient and meet their daily food and income needs. 

Read the contribution

iconOamenii Padurii, Romania

Oamenii stresses the need for continuous awareness raising to help people understand the importance of preserving the existing biodiversity. 

Read the contribution

iconSamuel Agele, Federal University of Technology, Nigeria

Samuel highlights the importance of traditional agricultural practices and the potential of underutilized crops for improving food security and nutrition.

Read the contribution