Africa College Partnership Seminar and workshop: Stefano Padulosi, Biodiversity International, Rome
Africa College Partnership
Thursday 25 March
Astbury, Level 11
Dr Stefano Padulosi
Bioversity International, Rome
'Mainstreaming biodiversity into contemporary diets- trends, issues and challenges'
Host: Koos Biesmeijer
The seminar will be followed by a workshop, 2-4pm in Astbury, level 11, for all who would like to know more.
Agricultural biodiversity is the foundation of sustainable diets. Current trends in both industrialized and developing countries are reducing the diversity of crops selected and deployed by farmers over millennia. The narrowing down of the world's food basket is affecting the nutritional and health benefits associated to diverse crop-based diets. The focus on few staple crops initiated in the 1960s during the Green revolution is today further intensified by globalized commodity-driven market forces. Contemporary food agricultural policies and programmes particularly in developing countries have not acted to limit the advancement of diet simplification in the name of modernization of food habits and life styles. Furthermore, traditional crops are too often associated with a wrong image of poverty and backwardness which hinders those efforts aimed at reintroducing healthy local food crops into modern diets. Global availability of cheap vegetable oils and fats has resulted in greatly increased fat consumption among low-income nations. As the nutrition transition is spreading to developing countries, the so called 'double burden' of malnutrition is also recorded in many rural and urban areas. These changes take place at a moment in time in which the worse ever food insecurity in the world is also registered and hence calls for a renewed major international effort to fight hunger have never been more justified. Such efforts should however be strongly linked with crop diversification strategies aiming at tackling the multiple objectives of enhancing food and nutrition security, health and peoples' livelihood. The mainstreaming of biodiversity into contemporary diets requires therefore a highly multi-disciplinary and inter-sector approach. Old fashioned interventions focusing exclusively on nutrition education are not sustainable and effective options. Experiences from projects in Africa, Asia and Latin America targeting so called neglected and underutilized species, confirm the benefits arising from such a holistic approach that spans across the whole food crop value chain, from the selection of improved varieties, enhanced seed systems, better cultivation practices, processing and value addition technology to improved traditional culinary practices, better marketing, demand promotion, education and public awareness. Women-sensitive approaches are key to the success of these interventions, as women are the main drive behind conservation and utilization of crop diversity. The ultimate result of these efforts is the conservation-through-use of local agrobiodiversity, no longer seen as irrelevant to local economies and hence no longer marginalized by R&D. The creation of an enabling policy environment to support such a process is critical to upscale interventions from isolated pilot sites and promote benefits of crop diversity, within and possibly also beyond national boundaries.
25th March 2010