Agriculturalbiodiversity is defined as the variability and variety of plants, animals andmicroorganisms that are used in agriculture and food. To specify it,agricultural biodiversity can be expanded and categorized it into ecologicaldiversity, genetic diversity and organismal diversity. Agricultural is not onlya subset of biodiversity, somehow it embraces units and habitats that areusually not accepted or recognized by some biologists as a part of biologicaldiversity. Agricultural biodiversity is the results of the interactions betweenhumans and natural ecosystem and brings beneficial to human health andnutrition and able to provide humans with goods and services. It includesspecies that are used directly and indirectly in food and agriculture and speciesthat are not included in the farming system. Diets, food intake, nutrition, andingredients for food preparation, cooking processing and storage are also oneof the elements of agricultural biodiversity. Besides, agriculturalbiodiversity also includes physical, social, cultural, ethical, spiritual elementsand elements that benefits and harms the crops, food production, and ecosystem.
For instance, pollination is one of the elements that can bring beneficial not onlyto food production but ecosystem. Likewise, pests and diseases are few of the elementsof agricultural biodiversity that affect crops adversely.The number ofplant species and animal species that were successfully domesticated has beendecreased across the centuries due to the simplification of agriculture alsoknown as agricultural revolution. The ease of cultivation, the nutrition thatthe species able to produce and the species that are able to be grown in a particularhabitat are the reasons of the simplification of agriculture. Over thecenturies, natural selection and artificial selection have developed a complexdiversity of local varieties or landraces.
Due to the difference of externalconditions in such soil type, weather, climate, landraces or primitivecultivars have their own adaptation, and characteristics such as nutritional value,use and date of maturity. Thesimplification of agriculture has caused some controversies. Researchers suggestedthat it reduces human’s dietary diversity due to intensification of agriculture.It brings adverse effect on human health due to human only rely on tiny numberof crop species for instance the staples, which are mainly barley, wheat rice,millet, etc.
and might cause malnutrition and has higher chance of gettinginfection by diseases. However, some researchers suggested that by growing suchcrops, others can concentrate on finding other nutrients, and so they can havebalance nutrition. In short, it cannot be denied that the intensification ofagriculture has sustained human population growth.Simplification of agriculture is mainly caused by modern intensive agriculture,while others are small-scale agriculture and other various forms of traditionalagriculture, home gardens. However, the substitution of landraces by moreadvanced cultivars has caused genetic erosion of the crop species, loss oflandraces.Humans in global depend only 7,000 out of 400,000 species of plants astheir staples in order to maintain adequate nutrition.
They are normally cultivationcrops, underutilized or orphan crops, wild-gathered plant species, crop wildrelatives. Wild-gathered plant species are not only used as food, they are alsoused as fibres, fuel, ornament and medicines. They are still popular in tropics,developing countries and the Mediterranean region especially for rural people,as they provide rural poor with most of their daily requirement of essentialvitamins and minerals. As wild-gathered species play important role to humans nowadaysfor instance increase income, nutritional benefits, some domesticationprogrammes are being developed to bringwild species into cultivation.The term ‘Underutilizedspecies’ is defined as those species that can improve people’s livelihoods,food security, domestication but due to lack of competitiveness withdomesticated crops, they are not fully utilized. However, these species arereceiving more recognition which more and more report and meeting has mentionedthe importance of underutilized species. Next, crop wild relatives are anessential source of genetic material for getting better adapted crops even thoughit is not a major role in human nutrition. Hence, it is also now widelyrecognized that crop wild relatives will play a role in future food securitywhen facing global change.
Animal diversityfor instance dairy products, eggs, meat, etc. also plays important role inhuman nutrition and dietary diversity. It mainly contains proteins, fat, somevitamins and nutrition that might not have in the plants.
It might not a majorpart of some people’s diet due to dietary restriction, financial restriction, supplyrestriction. Wild meat can be defined as non-domesticated mammals, birds,reptiles and amphibians hunted for food. However, due to excessive hunting ofsome wild animals, it is threatening the livelihoods of some forestcommunities. .
The demand for animal source foods has been increasing in recentyears. Hence, industrial livestock production is needed to supplement the wildmeat. However, it is reported that the practice of cultivation is not sustainabledue the large usage of land surface.
Next, fish and crustaceans is a majorsource for coastal, lacustrine and riverine communities. Fish play important rolein developing countries especially in rural area, to get sufficient nutrition. Now,nearly 50 percent of fish eaten are cultivated, not wild capture. As fish alsoprovide adequate protein, vitamins and minerals to human, the world fishconsumption has been increasing in recent years.
Nevertheless,agricultural intensification is threatening our biodiversity around theworld. It threatens rare or almostextinct plant and animal species, adverse effect on biodiversity, changed ourdietary patterns, and overuse on energy and water. Therefore, some researchersproposed new paradigms to solve this problem. The main concept of the new paradigms is maintaining intensification ofagricultural production but without simplification. In the other words, maximizethe productivity from the same area of land while conserving the environmentand resources. It is important that healthy ecosystems provide not only goodsand services to human but the entire agricultural systems.
Governmentsand policymakers overpass the relationship between biodiversity conservationand poverty. In fact, local biodiversity and ecosystem services play importantrole in developing countries especially in rural area. It provides food,medicine, fibre, fuel wood etc. to the local communities.
However, localagricultural biodiversity such as traditional crops, underutilized species andwild-harvested species is less concerned by public because of lacking of evidence,research, literature reviews and knowledge on the underutilized crops andwild-harvested species. Hence, some researchers encourage others to do researchon local biodiversity and nutrition in order to have better understanding oflocal dietary contributions, and local modification by various processingtechniques.