Nourishing diversity: A five-point plan to enrich our food systems
This policy brief (PDF) by Hivos and the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) provides an overview of why agricultural biodiversity and dietary diversity are important and what can be done to foster them. Maintaining agricultural biodiversity is vital for food security and nutrition, and to cope with the challenge of climate change. Recommendations include reorienting food and agricultural policies; using markets to support diversity in production and consumption; promoting local crop varieties, animal breeds and under-utilized crops; nurturing biocultural heritage and traditional knowledge; and increasing awareness and catalyzing change through innovative multi-stakeholder platforms like food labs. Reviving and maintaining diversity on the farm and on the plate requires action on multiple fronts and at multiple scales. At a macro level, promoting diversity entails a gradual but definitive shift from industrial agriculture (relying on monocultures and an unsustainably small number of crops, crop varieties and animal breeds) to diversified sustainable farming systems. At a national and local scale, it entails raising awareness and stimulating demand for diverse and healthy foods, as markets for diverse crops and animal products need to be supported and expanded. Multi-stakeholder approaches can help to achieve all of these ends, particularly by using and building upon citizen’s knowledge and practices to re-shape food systems.
Related to this is their short film “Life beyond maize”, which highlights the need for more diversification in Zambian food production as well as consumption.