Brazil is one of the most biodiversity rich countries in the world, including a wealth of agricultural biodiversity in both wild and cultivated forms. This is particularly noticeable in southern Brazil, home to a wide array of underutilized food species whose genetic diversity is maintained mostly by farmers through on-farm management practices. Farmers’ contribution in safeguarding and keeping alive traditional knowledge (TK) essential for recognizing, cultivating, valorising and consuming these resources is critical to their conservation. Part of this diversity, a rich basket of native fruits and landraces of vegetables and grains, is also maintained through ex situ collections managed by Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa) and its partners. This article discusses the integrated efforts for in situ/on-farm and ex situ conservation and use of agricultural biodiversity in southern Brazil. This diversity represents an important cultural heritage, since its use, cultivation and associated knowledge result from the dynamic history of the Brazilian population, including colonisation and immigration by several different ethnicities. Many of these species are sources of genes that convey tolerance to biotic and abiotic stresses, as a result of the combined action of natural selection and artificial selection by farmers in agricultural systems with low inputs and diverse environmental conditions. Due to their importance for food security, use in breeding programs, high nutritional value, and potential for income generation, Embrapa has taken responsibility for the ex situ conservation of these species. The genebanks that safeguard against the loss of these resources do also play an important role in the restoration of this germplasm to farming communities.
The rapid conversion of natural lands to cement-dominated urban centers is causing great losses in biodiversity. Yet, according to a new study involving 147 cities worldwide, surprisingly high numbers of plant and animal species persist and even flourish in urban environments -- to the tune of hundreds of bird species and thousands of plant species in a single city.
Reducing the rate of biodiversity loss and averting dangerous biodiversity change are international goals, reasserted by the Aichi Targets for 2020 by Parties to the United Nations (UN) Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) after failure to meet the 2010 target. However, there is no global, harmonized observation system for delivering regular, timely data on biodiversity change
It was clear from the speakers and participants at GCARD2 that partnership is one of the key factors to be considered if we want to improve livelihoods of smallholder farmers and increase food production.
Yam bean, originally from South America, has large storage roots that are richer in nutrients than many alternatives, such as cassava and yam.
Bioversity Library's insight:
While many of Africa's staple foods - maize, cassava, potatoes, Asian rice - have been introduced from other parts of the world, the idea of introducing yet another new food crop appears a daunting challenge. But over the last decade, a partnership of crop breeders and researchers from South America, Europe and Central and West Africa have been testing the potential of American yam bean (Pachyrhizus spp.) to thrive in African farms and be accepted by consumers.