Topic: Integrating agrobiodiversity conservation and valorisation: opportunities and risks based on Tuscany case studies
Keywords: agrobiodiversity; valorisation strategies; conservation policies.
The loss of biodiversity results from a combination of changes and impacts, including land use change, pollution, climate change. The industrial food system and particularly high-input and intensive agriculture underpinning it, are well known to seriously affect the resources base which they are reliant upon (IPES-Food, 2016). At the same time, the conservation of biodiversity across the agricultural landscape is regarded as potential solution for the transition towards more sustainable food systems, reducing vulnerability to climate change and ensuring food security (Pascual et al., 2011).
Agrobiodiversity is the variety and variability of living organisms that contribute to food and agriculture and the knowledge associated with them (Jackson et al., 2007). Nonetheless, the complex nature and values of agrobiodiversity make it difficult to both recognise and evaluate the goods and services it provides as well as to implement measures for its conservation and valorisation (Brunori et al., 2018).
In Italy, policy makers have acknowledged the relevance of agrobiodiversity conservation and recently put forth normative tools and financial resources for this purpose. However, efforts to enhance agrobiodiversity are likely to give rise to both synergies and trade-offs between conservation measures and market valorisation of products based on local genetic resources.
This contribution aims at understanding whether and to what extent recent policy interventions enable the enhancement of agrobiodiversity. To this aim, case studies have been carried out in Tuscany (Italy) on landraces identified among those protected through in-situ, on farm and ex-situ conservation in a local gene bank. Local supply chains of the products have been mapped through semi-structured interviews with a varied range of stakeholders – seed savers, local distributors, public institutions.
Results highlight how policies for agrobiodiversity conservation engender opportunities for enabling valorisation strategies both at the farm and local networks level. On the other hand, however, major limitations to upscaling such valorisation strategies are pointed out.
Brunori, G., Rossi, A., & D’Amico, S. (2018). A Comprehensive and Participatory Approach to the Valorisation of Biodiverse Products. Food Diversity Between Rights, Duties and Autonomies: Legal Perspectives for a Scientific, Cultural and Social Debate on the Right to Food and Agroecology, 3-22.
Pascual, U. Narloch, U., Nordhagen, S., & Drucker, A. G. (2011). The economics of agrobiodiversity conservation for food security under climate change. Economía Agraria y Recursos Naturales, 11(1), 191-220.
IPES-Food. 2016. From uniformity to diversity: a paradigm shift from industrial agriculture to diversified agroecological systems. International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food systems.
Jackson, L. E., Pascual, U., & Hodgkin, T. (2007). Utilizing and conserving agrobiodiversity in agricultural landscapes. Agriculture, ecosystems & environment, 121(3), 196-210.