Issue of June 2, 2019
     
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ACB advances of sustainable agri practices
by PNA release

The ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity is promoting healthy agricultural biodiversity (agro-biodiversity), noting this resource is essential for people’s well-being and achieving food security.

“Our health depends on the food we eat while our continuing supply of food relies on biodiversity and ecosystem services,” ACB Executive Director, Dr. Theresa Mundita Lim said, in her message for the 2019 International Day for Biological Diversity (IDBD) which has the theme, “Our biodiversity, our food, our health.”

She said nations must increasingly adopt sustainable agricultural systems and conserve biodiversity as these measures are vital to ensuring healthy agro-biodiversity.

“Agro-biodiversity covers three areas – genes, species, and ecosystems,” she said.

“Diversity in genes within our plants and animals ensures plant and animal species continue to survive.”

Diversity among species ensures variety of food we eat meets our nutritional needs.

Good and balanced nutrition come from eating a variety of food species. Diversity in ecosystems, which provide goods and services from nature, ensures health and survival of our food species.

The ASEAN region alone has several major agro-ecosystems producing rice, corn, vegetables, and other produce, she noted.

Citing latest FAO data, Lim said there’s access to greater quantity of food as agricultural output already rose over 160 percent since the 1960s while global population more than doubled.

“However, FAO warned there are trade-offs in increasing food production, primarily the degradation of ecosystems due to unsustainable agricultural practices such as monocropping and excessive use of pesticide and fertilizer,” she said.

She said the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity warned over 90 percent of crop diversity already disappeared from farmers’ fields in the last 100 years.

“Half of the breeds of many domestic animals have been lost and all of the world’s 17 main fishing grounds are now being fished at or above their sustainable limits,” she added.

Locally-varied food production systems as well as indigenous, traditional and local knowledge are under threat, she continued.

“With this decline, agro-biodiversity is disappearing including essential knowledge of traditional medicine and local food,” she said.

She warned the resulting loss of diverse diets is directly linked to diseases and health risk conditions like diabetes, obesity and malnutrition.

Such loss also has direct impact on availability of traditional medicine, she noted.

“Today, our diet as a whole has less variety – we may have greater quantity of food but are losing food diversity which is key to balanced nutrition,” she said.

UN proclaimed May 22 of every year as IDBD to increase global understanding and awareness of biodiversity issues.

IDBD’s 2019 theme aims to leverage knowledge and spread awareness about dependency of food systems, nutrition and health on biodiversity and healthy ecosystems.

Lim said that with ACB support, ASEAN nations are working at the national and regional levels to ensure ASEAN region’s agro-biodiversity is protected and maintained.

“As parties  to CBD, ASEAN member-States are committed to the conservation and sustainable use of agricultural biodiversity and ecosystem services,” she said.

She added ASEAN member-States support CBD’s initiatives on pollinators, soil biodiversity, food and nutrition as well as the ecosystem conservation approach for integrated management of land, water, and living resources to promote sustainable agricultural systems.


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