IMPACTS OF UNDERUTILIZED PLANT SPECIES PROMOTION ON BIODIVERSITY
Developing agricultural landscapes and markets that work for smallholder farmers and local agricultural micro-entrepreneurs in the tropics and subtropics depends on stopping–and indeed reversing–biodiversity losses in farming systems. Any significant expansion in cultivation of a particular underutilized plant, while providing benefits in the short run, may have important negative consequences for genetic variation within the taxon itself, and also for associated species diversity, which in turn may have negative repercussions on livelihoods later. Such erosion of diversity may be countered, however, by cultural preferences for particular varieties and risk-minimisation strategies adopted by farmers. We consider different practical interventions to support biodiversity in farming systems in the context of a pro-poor focus and the need for adaptive responses in management. Intervention should take a spear and shield approach, in which, while certain taxa are championed for domestication, measures to promote the use of a wider range of species are also not neglected, for reserve and buffering functions, such as against climate change events. Key measures include improving access to planting material for a wider range of species and varieties, and the development of intelligent markets for varied products. Improving access to planting material includes the enhancement of community seed networks, the promotion of germplasm fairs, the application of village-level domestication strategies and the development of decentralised seed supply businesses. The development of intelligent markets means understanding the roles that different types of product value chains and local, national and international markets can play in supporting biodiversity, and promoting best practices. Important measures include enhancing the use of the media for educating consumers about a more diverse range of products and more training of key actors in value chain management. At the international level, niche markets such as those promoted by Denomination of Origin certification can be useful, as are efforts to remove barriers to market entry.
Jaenicke, H., Dawson, I.K., Guarino, L. and Hermann, M. (2009). IMPACTS OF UNDERUTILIZED PLANT SPECIES PROMOTION ON BIODIVERSITY. Acta Hortic. 806, 621-628
certification, displacement, genetic variation, niche markets, value chains