Agriculturalbiodiversity is defined as the variety and variability of plants, animals, microorganismsthat are used in food and agriculture. It is the result of the interactionbetween humans and natural ecosystems. To specify it, agricultural biodiversitycan be expanded and classified into ecological diversity, organismal diversityand genetic diversity.
It is an extension of biodiversity in order to includeunits and habitats that are not usually accepted by some biologists. Agriculturalbiodiversity includes, physical, social, cultural, ethical and spiritualelements that results the crops and food produced vary in different places. Elementsthat bring beneficial and harm to crops, food, and ecosystem are also includedin agricultural biodiversity. For example,species and habitats outside of farming systems that can enhance ecosystemfunctions, elements that able to supply goods and services to humans are someof the elements that benefit agriculture. Pollination and control of greenhousegas emissions and soil dynamics are some other elements that contribute to ecosystemservices. Moreover, pests, weed and diseases are harmful elements that affectcrops and food adversely.The number of plantspecies and animal species that were successfully domesticated becomes smaller.Agriculture has been simplifying across the centuries due to agriculturalrevolution which few plant species had been successfully domesticated.
The nutritionalvalue, ease of cultivation, reliability and ability to adopt to change of theplants are the considerations for the farmers to select and plant. Besides, thebreeding of wild species, adaptation to external conditions and the othercultural and economic factors has caused the farmers to develop and unexpectedlocal varieties and landraces. Due to different external conditions, landracesand primitive cultivars have their own adaptation, own characteristics andnutrition levels. Domestics livestock can help to prevent the extinction ofanimal species and diversity results of hunting, changes to their habitats etc.However, agriculturehas caused a major reduction in dietary diversity due to the intensification ofagriculture which only few types of crop species used for planting. Intensiveagriculture aroused much controversy among the researchers. Some researchers claimedthat by intensive agriculture like high carbohydrate crops, hunters-gathererscan concentrate on providing protein and other nutrients, and so balance nutrientcan be taken.
However, some other researchers claimed that intensive agriculturehas caused adverse effect on health as only few nutrition dominate the dietaryintake, which can cause nutrient deficiencies and diseases. But overall,agricultural intensification brings more benefits than harms by reducing mortalityand increasing in health level.Simplification ofagriculture not only due to modern intensive agriculture, others form ofagriculture like traditional agriculture, small-scale cultivation of staples,home gardening are also the reasons. Small-scale agricultures contribute someof the food supply in the world. Small-scale agricultures are rich in agriculturalbiodiversity as they use polycropping and intercropping to maintain thevariation within the crops. Small-scale agricultures can also help inconserving the local knowledge, besides providing micronutrient and vitamins tohuman as the farmers use local underutilized species that are very valuable butless investigated by researchers.Home gardens alsoplay important role in improving household food security and reducemicronutrient deficiencies.
It applies on the area of land around the familyhome. It is normally practiced in tropical and subtropical regions. It isnormally a subsistence agriculture.
Home gardens also rich in agriculturalbiodiversity as they contain up to 100 or more species in a garden. Homegardens can also provide animal products. Thus, Home gardens able to improvethe nutrition, incomes and diet of rural poor. However, there are littleevidence on their nutritional status. Inconclusion, agricultural biodiversity contributes human food, nutrition andhealth especially in traditional food systems besides agricultural intensification.Traditional food systems provide nutrition, micronutrient, diet variety andsustain the livelihoods not only in local communities but also people aroundthe world. Hence, local biodiversity is one of the significant contributions toa sustainable agriculture-food-nutrition.
Not only the traditional foodsystems, home gardens also able to provide sufficient nutrients, micronutrientsto human diets. However, the lack of knowledge about these agricultural methodsinvolved resulted in less attention to the investigation of their nutrientcontributions and micronutrients of local food. Assessments, integratedapproaches, and attention are needed to investigate local food resources withnutritional, agronomic, and economic advantages.
In short, agriculturalbiodiversity plays important role in providing sustainable of nutrition tohuman in response to the challenges of global change.