When more means less

Food seems to be as unlimited and diverse as ever before. When we go to the store there is a nearly endless choice of every type of food. But is it really as diverse as it seems? Well, not quite so. You see, all around the world the number of supermarkets is growing rapidly, even more so in developing countries. And they all tend to sell the same. Thus, supermarkets need a huge supply of the same products. That leads them to favor a few individual crops so that their offer is uniform, stores well and is easy to market. So there is a lot of food in different packages, but the content is identical! What does it mean for biodiversity?

Agriculture: foe or friend?

Agriculture plays two roles according to how it is applied. On one side it is a leading driver of biodiversity loss, while on the other it is important for the conservation of agro-biodiversity. How is that possible? It all depends on the type of agriculture. One way is industrialized agriculture, which favors a few high-yielding varieties that are planted in huge monocultures that do not support diversity. The second way is agro-ecological agriculture that favors resilience, sustainability and diversity and as such can help in the conservation of biodiversity. But why is biodiversity so important?

The more the merrier

The food system we choose has a direct impact on which type of world, and indeed future, we will have. When we lose diversity, we also lose healthiness and resilience. That means that we are less able to handle sudden changes. One of the greatest challenges we are facing is climate change, which is producing a large number of sudden changes to our planet like shifting weather patterns with more frequent severe climatic events such as hurricanes, floods and droughts. Monocrops without diversity are more prone to changes and various diseases and pests, and it is diverse farms that have the resilience to survive all this.

The Earth's skin

The type of agriculture we use doesn’t affect only diversity, but something just as precious and without which we cannot grow anything. Can you guess what it is? We’re talking about soil and it ranks among the world’s most precious resources. That’s really interesting, right? The soil needs to be healthy for us to be able to grow food. Furthermore, soils play an important role in fighting climate change by storing carbon from the air into the ground. However, current industrial agriculture is not using the soil well. It is greatly degrading it and causing erosion and so we are losing this important resource very quickly.

Weathered parent material
Parent rocks

Discover, save and plant!

Do you remember that we looked at agriculture as both a savior and a threat to biodiversity at once? We can all promote the type of agriculture that is the savior rather than the villain. How? There are organizations that save and distribute traditional old varieties. Get a hold of some and plant them, or they also make for an original present! Planting traditional crops is the best way to conserve biodiversity. Or you can also ask your local store to sell traditional varieties from your region.

Become a banker!

We’re not talking about a money banker but rather something more exciting: A seed banker! You can even make your own seed bank at school and exchange and save old varieties with your classmates. For example, schools in Slovenia have opened their own seed bank where children and parents exchange seeds. It’s easy to start – all you need is: a box, decorations to make the box look nice, and then just collect traditional local seeds, label them carefully and let the world know!


European Year for Development
Czech Development Agency

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