Worms, Termites, Microbes Offer Food Security - Worms and termites are not likely to win hearts and minds, but they, along with lichens and microbes, are vital to food security, say biodiversity specialists who attended this month’s United Nations... conference on the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in this south Indian city.
orms, termites, lichens and soil microbes may well be the heroes of food production as without these species land-based biodiversity would collapse and food production cease,” Julia Marton-Lefevre, director-general of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, told IPS.“In this day’s fierce competition for political attention and funds, (preventing) land degradation is a tough sell,” said Marton-Lefevre. “It may be one of the most serious threats to global food production and biodiversity over the next few decades, affecting an estimated 1.5 billion (poor) people.
“Soil biodiversity may not be the most glamorous of our biodiversity, but it is nevertheless highly important,” she added.
Safeguarding the underlying ecological foundations that support food production, including biodiversity, will be central to feeding seven billion inhabitants, climbing to over nine billion by 2050, says the U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP) study ‘Avoiding Future Famines: Strengthening the Ecological Basis of Food Security through Sustainable Food System’ released in Hyderabad.
“Soil is not an empty container, as is thought by modern agriculturists; land is a living organism and has to be valued as such,” emphasised internationally known Indian environmentalist and activist Vandana Shiva.
Borrowing from Charles Darwin, Shiva said, earthworms create dams without concrete, increase air volume within soil by 30 percent and improve water retention capacity by 40 percent, increasing the life of soil.
“Unfortunately, we are valuing inefficient systems like chemical intensive monoculture, forgetting that value and benefit lie in securing the soil that provides everything for humanity; discarding natural farming that simultaneously provides grains, firewood and also fodder for cattle,” Shiva told IPS.
Shiva hit out at Indian policy saying it gave “billions of dollars as subsidy for chemical fertilisers, completely ignoring the fact that the solution to hunger and poverty lay in biodiversity promotion – that is being destroyed by chemical farming.”