AGROBIODIVERSITY: A training manual for farmer groups in East Africa

Post date Wednesday, 1 August, 2018 - 09:27
Document Type Tools and Guidance, Manual/Guideline
Content Themes Resilience, Agriculture, Livestock, Livelihoods
Sources FAO

Biodiversity Everyone depends on agricultural biodiversity: it provides a wide variety of food, fibre, fuel and other products that are essential to the present and future survival and wellbeing of all people on Earth. But what is biodiversity? Let us start by explaining what biological diversity (also known as biodiversity) is: Biodiversity is the variety of living organisms – animals, plants and micro-organisms – from all sources, such as terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems.

Biodiversity can be considered at several different levels, including:

  • Within species (intraspecific) variation: the differences within a species that affect the physical characteristics and appearance and qualities of the individuals such as productivity, ability to withstand stress and adapt to change. For example, not all zebu cattle are the same: they may vary in size, colour of coat, presence or absence of horns, milk yield and degree of susceptibility to tick-borne diseases – these different traits are, to some extent at least, due to variation in the individual’s genetic make up: they were passed down from its parents. 3 introduction to agrobiodiversity MODULE 1
  • Among species (interspecific) variation: a species is a distinct type of animal, plant or micro-organism that shares common characteristics and can breed only with other similar individuals. Examples include: animals such as elephants, ostriches, crocodiles, tree frogs, catfish, locusts; plants such as mango trees, aloes, mosses; and micro-organisms such as the bacterium that causes tuberculosis in cattle and the yeast that allows bread to rise.
  • Ecosystems: the interaction of different species with each other and the physical environment that sustains ecological functions and services. Ecosystems can be identified and studied at various scales, for example - small scale: looking at interactions amongst a single plant, the soil and the atmosphere, e.g. root form and depth, root nodules and activity of rhizobium bacteria and plant health indicators (leaves, colour etc.) - medium scale: the interactions in a farm (crop-trees-livestock-humans) or a pond (plants-fish-ducks) and the efficiency of resource use (e.g. inflow and outflow of nutrients, use of crop residues/livestock waste etc) - large scale: the interactions within a watershed or catchment, a rangeland area or a high altitude/ mountain region (land use, soil erosion, water flows, inputs, outputs).