What is Agrobiodiversity
Agricultural biodiversity, or agrobiodiversity for short, is a broad term used to describe (among other things) the varieties of animals and plants involved in production systems that provide food and other non-food agricultural products.
These systems are created and managed by farmers and contribute to sustainable food systems and healthy diets. The conservation and proper management of agrobiodiversity contributes to food security and livelihoods, but can also assist Barbados in achieving it’s climate change mitigation and adaptation goals.
Agrobiodiversity is defined by the Food and Agriculture Organization as:
The variety and variability of animals, plants and micro-organisms that are used directly or indirectly for food and agriculture, including crops, livestock, forestry and fisheries. It comprises the diversity of genetic resources (varieties, breeds) and species used for food, fodder, fibre, fuel and pharmaceuticals. It also includes the diversity of non-harvested species that support production (soil micro-organisms, predators, pollinators), and those in the wider environment that support agro-ecosystems (agricultural, pastoral, forest and aquatic) as well as the diversity of the agro-ecosystems.Source: FAO, 1999a
And among its benefits, the FAO lists:
– Increased productivity, food security, and economic returnsAdapted from Thrupp, 1997 by FOA
– Reduced pressure from agriculture on fragile areas, forests and endangered species
– Enhanced farming systems, which are more stable, robust, and sustainable
-Sound pest and disease management
– Conservation soil
– Increase natural soil fertility and health
– Contribute to sustainable intensification
– Diversification of products and income opportunities
– Increased resilience of individuals and nations
– Increased effectiveness in use of biological and resources
– Reduced dependency on external inputs
– Improved human nutrition, sources of medicines and vitamins
– Conservation of ecosystem structure and stability of species diversity.
The effects of the novel corona virus can be felt at the national, regional and global levels. The mitigation of challenges to food security has been identified as being among one of the top priorities globally and as part of its Covid-19 response plan, the Government of Barbados has made a concerted effort towards the bolstering of agricultural productivity. Included below are just a few of these projects.
Farmer’s Manual: Green Monkey Deterrence
Ministry of Environment commissioned Mr Justin Springer of Mosaic Ecoconsult, to develop A Manual for Farmers in Barbados, with the aim to provide information for farmers experiencing losses from crop raiding Green monkeys
The manual consists of a review of techniques used both locally and internationally to deter monkeys from raiding cultivated foods. The aim of the manual is to describe methods that farmers can try to reduce monkey crop damage, not methods to reduce monkey numbers. It is envisioned that Barbadian farmers can try the various methods, according to their situation, to gain relief from monkeys affecting crop production.
Farmer’s Manual: Row Covers
Row covers are structures used to protect plants from undesirable factors such as insects and frost. They have been used extensively in temperate countries as a safeguard for unexpected drops in temperature. More recently newer fabrics are being used to grow pest-free crops. Some of the newer fabrics are very light and can be thrown over most crops as “floating covers” (no hoop supports).
In our climatic conditions our aims would be to reduce wind speed and heat stress, to shelter from rain and to exclude pests.