Scientific evidence, management practices and policy options to use and safeguard agricultural and tree biodiversity.
Our panel of international experts explores how our global food systems have become overreliant on only three crops, and what we can do about it.
Our panel of international experts explores how our global food systems have become overreliant on only three crops, and what we can do about it.
Multi-year, multi-crop rotations produce high yields for each crop in the rotation, control pests and weeds with less reliance on chemical pesticides, and enhance soil fertility with less need for synthetic fertilizers.
FAO’s definition of Agrobiodiversity
Agrobiodiversity is the result of the interaction between the environment, genetic resources and management systems and practices used by culturally diverse peoples, and therefore land and water resources are used for production in different ways. Thus, agrobiodiversity encompasses the variety and variability of animals, plants and micro-organisms that are necessary for sustaining key functions of the agro-ecosystem, including its structure and processes for, and in support of, food production and food security.
Diversity is the spice of life, and biological diversity, in many ways, underpins many aspects of food, from its nutritional value, flavor and taste, and even how it is produced. I’m typically not one to argue for silver bullets, but food diversity is our best bet at long-lasting sustainability and a food production that works with, rather than against, nature. However, we must start with clarifying some terms.
Many forms of diversity are involved in healthy and sustainable food. Dietary diversity, which may be the first thing that people think of when we speak of food diversity, is the diversity of foods we eat.
By some estimates, there are 30,000-60,000 species of edible plants and countless species of edible fungi, algae, fish and shellfish, and animals. Eating diverse foods is generally considered the core of a healthy diet–mainly eating a diversity of plants and plant parts: fruits, stems, leaves, roots, and seeds. In his book Food Rules, Michael Pollan reminds us to “eat your colors.” This makes sense since food’s green, red, yellow, white, orange, and brown colors often represent distinct and complementary nutrients.
The recent EAT-Lancet Commission’s Planetary Health Diet recommends that half of our diets be comprised of fruits, vegetables, and seeds, with 30% of our caloric intake coming from whole grains–rice, maize, and wheat. It makes us question: why not teff, fonio, sorghum, millet, or other pseudo-grains like buckwheat, quinoa, and amaranth? Or a greater variety of plant-based proteins such as beans and pulses (0-700 grams per week)?
Dietary diversity can have two important links to sustainable farming. First, eating a diversity of foods can support farming practices that grow crops in environments where they are best suited, and create markets for a diversity of foods, hopefully allowing farmers to select crops that are adapted to soils, climate, and water availability. Our over-dependence on a handful of crops has driven a style of farming that has sought to adapt crops to different environments, or, more recently, new forms of hothouse or vertical agriculture that adapts the environment to a crop’s needs. Agroecology, in contrast, tries to find the best crops for a specific environmental condition. The second way that dietary diversity can impact the environment is by increasing our consumption of plant-based food, with more moderate meat consumption. The EAT-Lancet Commission’s Planetary Health diet recommends 0-200 grams of beef, pork, or lamb per week, 0-420 grams of poultry per week, and 0-700 grams of fish per week.
Livestock is an important part of circular agriculture; cattle and other grazers can be important means of conserving grassland plant, bird, and animal diversity in grassland biomes. Thus, the recommendation is to consume moderate amounts of animal meat, favoring farmers who work hard to humanely produce quality food while protecting biodiversity and the environment. Additionally, overconsumption of meat is one of the biggest drivers of climate change and can be a major force of biodiversity loss when forests are cleared for meat or forage production.
Often forgotten in food diversity is the biodiversity that supports food production. There is a highly invisible workforce of bacteria, fungi, insects, birds, and other critters that contribute to the production of high-quality and nutritious foods. Increasingly we are becoming comfortable thinking about bees and the pollination services they provide, but entire soil ecosystems are frequently taken for granted yet critical to sustainable food production. Even less understood are the evolutionary forces behind healthy foods. The foods we eat have little impact on sustainable production; however, how and where food is produced makes or breaks the sustainability questions. Let’s take these questions one by one.
Field-scale practices are critical to sustainability. Health professionals and the public increasingly understand that the gut microbiome (the diversity of critters living in our guts) is essential to human health. A plant root is simply a gut turned inside out. It is where nutrients are absorbed to allow for plant growth. Fungi and bacteria surround roots, and numerous other biodiversities, which drive nutrient cycles, capture and store carbon, and filter water. Practices that limit soil disturbances such as no-till or which limit the use of agricultural chemicals, particularly biocides (fungicides, herbicides, pesticides) but also fertilizers, can help support healthy soil ecosystems (soil microbiome). Leaving plant material on soils and cultivating a diversity of crops through polycultures or rotations are necessary to keep biodiversity healthy and functioning.
Biodiversity is essential around fields as well. Keeping wild vegetation in and around fields, as in agroforestry systems (trees mixed with crops), creates habitats for species that can contribute to pollination or pest control services. The Planetary Health diet calls for increasing consumption of a diversity of fruits, nuts, and vegetables because of their nutritious qualities. These are also the crops most critically dependent on pollinators, not just European honeybees, but on a diversity of bees, flies, moths, butterflies, beetles, and other critters. Wasps, ladybird beetles, and many other examples of biodiversity,, in contrast, can play essential roles in preying on crop pests and keeping diseases in check. Cultivating a diversity of crops and reducing disturbance of soils and vegetation all serve to maintain habitat in and around fields and are necessary means of conserving the biodiversity that supports healthy food production.
Let us wrap up with a quick note on evolution, the most poorly understood interactions between food diversity and sustainability. Many flavors, such as spicy chili peppers, aromatic cinnamon, or the bitter taste of arugula, are the product of the evolutionary chemical warfare between plants and their predators. The flavors we have come to enjoy were developed by these plants to protect their leaves, seeds, and stems from insects, fungi, or other pests. Thus while pests can be pesky, they are the source of the spice of life. We’re still not quite sure what happens to these flavors if plants are grown in environments that are fully protected from pests. Still, one hypothesis is that they will eventually lose those flavors, and unique chemical properties, such as antioxidants, which make them exceptionally nutritious and delicious.
We live on a uniquely biological planet. Diversity, in all of its forms, is the hallmark of life. Protecting and working with diversity, rather than against, whether the diversity in our guts, on our plates, or in and around our fields, is likely to be the best path to both health and sustainability.
Only 3 crops contribute 60% of calories and proteins obtained by humans from plants.
Since 1900 about 75% of the genetic diversity of agricultural crops has been lost.
250K to 300K are known edible plant species. Only 150 to 200 are used by humans.
It takes about 500 years to form 25 mm of soil under agricultural conditions.
Poor diets were responsible for 10.9 million deaths among adults in 2017.
The food systems feeding humans on this planet work at diverse scales. At the planetary scale, the imminent danger of climate change makes clear that while productive land use is paramount, we need to reduce agriculture’s carbon footprint by avoiding further land clearing at all costs. For the next four decades, until our global population stabilizes (around 2060), a growing demand for food must be met by growing more food using the same area. This will require intensive, highly productive systems.
Agricultural biodiversity can contribute to this intensification by growing more species, more crops per year, two species together (intercropping, mixed cropping), or in adding novel rotations. This is especially true with underutilized staple foods (e.g., tef, buckwheat, amaranth, quinoa, and millets), though additional research is needed to make their production more profitable. Diets can also transition to more pulses (e.g., bambara, cowpea, fonio, beans), fruits, and nuts to reduce meat consumption, as advocated by the EAT-Lancet report.
At the farm scale, agroecological parameters (latitude, temperature, day length, water precipitation or irrigation availability, land topography and soil types, etc.) and socio-economic parameters (population density, landholding size, land tenure arrangements, access to farm input, credit, and insurance, access to markets, etc.) largely determine which crops can grow in a particular place or time. Once these key parameters are accounted for, market demand and government policies can further influence farmers’ decisions regarding what to grow and how.
From a western consumer perspective, while there is a widespread belief that the diversity of diets has decreased with modern agriculture, visiting any supermarket in the western world shows that consumers have access to an ever-increasing diversity of food. Just ask an 80-year-old European consumer whether they had access to kiwi fruit, bokchoy, or quinoa during their childhood.
Still, supporting biodiversity comes at a cost. While return on investment will always be the most significant driver of large-scale commercial farming, return on labor will become an ever increasing concern for smallholder farmers in the developing world. Farmers grow what consumers buy, but as societies and demographics change, and consumers become more affluent, will their preferences support increased diversity in the marketplace?
Sustainable intensification is the broad term for an approach to agriculture that increases food production from existing farmland without increasing impact on the environment.
Food Systems and Agrobiodiversity
Almost one hundred years ago, the Russian scientist Nikolai Vavilov identified 12 spots in the world where most of domesticated crops and their genetic diversity originated. He called those spots “Centres of Origin”.
Vavilov Centers are regions where a high diversity of crop wild relatives can be found and have been a basic knowledge for plant breeders to locate one crop’s historical roots and avoid genetic erosion.
There are multiple causes for the shrinking diversity in our food systems, ranging from the intense standardization of planting material and agronomic practices—we eat more of fewer foods—to the scarce attention paid to addressing the basic needs of underutilized crops.
Not enough money is spent to research which varieties to grow, how to upgrade harvest and post-harvest operations, and what approaches can be taken to enhance value chains. This “diversity-poor” approach has marginalized hundreds of nutritious and healthy crops that can no longer compete with highly researched commodities in local, national, and global food systems.
Consumers also bear a responsibility for the increasing lack of diversity in our food systems; they wrongfully perceive many traditional crops to be symbols of poverty and hardship. Unstead, their diets now focus on popular, easy-to-cook staples.
At the government level, decision makers give little space to biodiversity in national agricultural development strategies and programs. They often neglect the numerous environmental and livelihood benefits associated with deploying crop diversity in food and production systems, focusing instead on a few commodity crops.
The result of such myopia? Two-thirds of crop production comes from only nine species: sugar cane, maize, rice, wheat, potatoes, soybeans, oil-palm fruit, sugar beet, and cassava. The remaining 6,000 cultivated plant species are in continuous decline. Some of the major causes of agricultural biodiversity loss can be traced in:
These strategies are interrelated, meaning that to increase biodiversity in global food systems will require a combination of approaches that build resilience in global food systems so they can better adapt to changes in consumer tastes and diets.
A farming model that prioritizes efficiency and high yields, sacrificing bio-diversity and natural resiliency. Monocropping (the intense cultivation of one single crop in a large field) is achieved by using pesticides and other agro-chemicals.
Agrobiodiversity has been seriously eroded and lost at all levels over the last century, due to several trends and causes that also function as barriers to the implementation and scaling-up of practices that enhance biodiversity. A new agroecological paradigm is required, rooted in fundamentally different relationships between agriculture and the environment, and between food systems and society.
IPES Food identified seven case studies that provide concrete examples of how, in spite of the many barriers to change, people around the world have been able to fundamentally rethink and redesign food systems around agroecological principles.
Biodiversity loss can be considered from a nutrition, environmental and economic point of view.
When the availability of certain nutrient-rich foods is reduced, nutritional deficiencies correspondingly rise among populations that rely on these foods. For example, the loss of traditional and local food crops that have high levels of vitamins, minerals and other micronutrients can result in nutrient deficiencies, especially in rural and low-income communities that rely on these crops.
Biodiversity loss can also lead to a range of negative environmental impacts. For example, the loss of pollinators can reduce the ability of crops to produce fruits and seeds. Similarly, the loss of biodiversity in soils can lead to reduced soil fertility and increased erosion. Also, loss of biodiversity in freshwater and marine ecosystems can negatively impact a variety of ecosystem services including water purification, flood regulation and recreation.
Economies can also suffer from biodiversity loss. For example, the absence of pollinators can reduce crop yields and lead to increased costs for farmers. Similarly, the loss of biodiversity in fisheries can lead to reduced fish catches and lower income for fishing communities.
Finally, it’s worth noting that these impacts are interconnected: the loss of biodiversity in one area can lead to cascading impacts elsewhere. For example, the loss of biodiversity in agricultural ecosystems can lead to reduced pest control, which can in turn increase the need for synthetic pesticides, further damaging biodiversity and the environment.
Native plants that may serve as sources of nectar or pollen for adult pollinators, or plants that host larva. Some plants and flower shapes attract specific pollinators with deep or complex flowers. Pollinator friendly can also refer to pest management practices used to grow plants with no harmful insecticide residue on the flowers or in the pollen and nectar.
Agriculture is one of the industries most affected by climate change but, at the same time, it is also one of the largest contributors to it through greenhouse gas emissions.
17% directly through agricultural activities and an additional
7-14% through land use changes.
It is therefore part of the problem – and potentially an important part of the solution.
In order to face future climatic challenges, scientists all over the world are looking into the so called “Climate Smart Crops” to find the key for adaptation. Climate Smart Crops are crops that adapt to a wide range of agro-climatic conditions and give good performance even under marginal growing conditions.
In tropical and subtropical agriculture, increases in temperature and decreases in available moisture can dramatically limit plant growth and production, especially during a crop’s flowering and fruit development stages. With climate change, these impacts are being felt faster than anticipated. Greater precipitation variability—including flooding, drought, and more extreme rainfall events—now affects food security in many parts of the world, including India.
Therefore, there is an urgent need to develop resilient diversified agricultural systems that can buffer crops against climate variability and extreme weather events. New programs are needed to provide farmers with different varieties adapted to local conditions and dynamically adapted to any ongoing changes in the climate. More diversity will result in greater buffering capacity across these crop systems.
We also need to develop market support mechanisms to make the farming systems for these “diverse” crops more sustainable. The keyword here is “Demand.” If we can diversify our lunch or dinner “plate,” we can diversify our cropping systems. Mainstreaming climate-resilient crops and their varieties can create a demand for these food items, and motivate farmers to grow them. The Indian Institute for Millet Research, for example, holds cook-shops to develop recipes and “fast food” from millets. They are also incubating new food companies to prepare over-the-shelf food items made from millet. Celebrity chefs have also begun developing millet recipes for hotels and restaurants. These collective efforts are creating a huge demand for crops neglected in favor of rice and wheat. The more diverse we make our food systems, the less pressure we put on our agriculture and the greater security for all of us.
Any adjustment in natural or human systems in response to actual or expected climatic stimuli or their effects which moderates harm or exploits beneficial opportunities. It involves taking action so that we can be more resilient to our current climate, less susceptible to the impacts of future climate change and in a position to take advantage of opportunities.
The 68th UN General Assembly declared 2016 the International Year of Pulses (IYP), aiming to increase public awareness of the nutritional benefits of pulses as part of sustainable food production.
But pulses are also leguminous plants, so they have nitrogen-fixing properties which can contribute to increasing soil fertility and have a positive impact on the environment.
The inclusion of pulses in multiple cropping systems, such as intercropping or simple crop rotation, is important for the sustainable management of soil nutrients, for improving soil structure, and overall, it is an important step towards implementing more sustainable agricultural practices.
Healthy soils team with life. Myriad micro-organisms, from bacteria and fungi to algae, as well as soil animals (protozoa, nematodes, mites, springtails, spiders, insects, and earthworms) and even plants live all or part of their lives in or on the soil. These organisms play a vital role in the health and productivity of the soil, as they help to break down organic matter, improve soil structure, and provide nutrients to plants.
Unfortunately, the highly valuable ecological benefits this soil biota provides is increasingly under threat from anthropogenic (human) activities, including the excessive use of inorganic fertilizers and pesticides.
Agrobiodiversity can have a positive impact on soil biota by providing a diverse range of food sources and habitat for these organisms. For example, the presence of pollinators and other insects can help to improve the fertility of the soil by aiding in the pollination of plants, while the presence of predatory insects can help to control pest populations and reduce the need for chemical pesticides.
Additionally, the use of diverse crop rotations can help maintain nutrient balance in the soil, which is critical as different crops have different nutrient requirements. The roots of these diverse plant species can also help loosen the soil to promote greater infiltration of water and air, while contributing to a diverse community of soil microbes, which can improve the overall health and fertility of soil by breaking down organic matter, improving water retention, and suppressing disease-causing pathogens.
Overall, promoting agrobiodiversity can help support the long-term health of soil ecosystems.
Healthy soil is loose, friable, and well-drained, approximately 45% minerals, 25% water, 25% air and 5% organic matter, has good structure and texture, plenty of nutrients and a pH between 5.5 and 7.5, and has large numbers and types of organism.
People and Agrobiodiversity
Women comprise an average 43 percent of the agricultural labour force of developing countries. The female share of the agricultural labour force ranges from about 20 percent in the Americas to almost 50 percent in East and Southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Eliminating the gap between men and women in access to agricultural resources would raise yields on women’s farms by 20-30 per cent and increase agricultural production in developing countries by 2.5-4 per cent, which could in turn reduce the number of undernourished people ly by 12-17 percent or 100-150 million people.
Throughout the ages, small holder farmers, and particularly women, have been the custodians of agricultural biodiversity; their livelihoods are interwoven with the traditional knowledge on how to manage diverse natural resources—wild plants, edible roots and tubers, tree products, wild and domesticated animals—and the uses of these foods for household food and nutrition security. That knowledge extends to the diverse use of plants and their different parts (leaves, fruits, nuts, seeds, roots), both domesticated and from the wild. This, combined with the keen awareness of how food is used as medicine, forms the basis of their household food security.
In agriculture, while women continue to play a major role, they are often not recognized or given credit as farmers, especially in a globalized food system where two to three crops have come to dominate the marketplace. Despite this reality, their awareness of desirable characteristics—resistance to pests and disease, taste and cooking quality, and processing and storage properties—has provided a solid foundation for the selection and adaptation of many plant varieties in agriculture. This is of huge relevance for conserving the diversity of plant and animal genetic resources.
Today, the world bears witness to the rapid erosion of genetic diversity in both plant and animal resources, but by going back to the roots and recognizing the traditional role women play in conserving agrobiodiversity and building sustainable livelihoods around them, the global community can move closer to meeting the Sustainable Development Goal targets.
The term “smallholders” includes small farmers who own/control the land they farm and those who do not. Often, the term “outgrower” is used to refer to a smallholder who is in a dependent, managed relationship with an exporter.
Supply chains and agrobiodiversity
Over 50% of the global requirement for proteins and calories are met by just three crops, maize, wheat and rice; only 150 crops are commercialized on a significant global scale. Yet, humankind has, over time, used more than 7,000 edible species. Numerous neglected and underutilized species offer the potential to diversify not only the human diet, but also increase food production levels, and, thus, enable more sustainable and resilient agro- and horti-food systems.
Agrobiodiversity isn’t just about the range of products in our kitchens or the types of food on our plates. Supermarket shelves are stacked with a plethora of novel food products, snacks, ready meals, and condiments. However, their ingredients increasingly come from the same narrow range of plants and animals on which most of us now depend. Just three ‘staple’ crops (wheat, rice, and maize) provide more than 60% of the calories consumed by over 7.4 billion people. Will they be enough to nourish nearly ten billion people on a hotter planet? If not, we need greater agrobiodiversity from more crops and diverse agroecosystems instead of more products from the same crops grown as monocultures.
Agrobiodiversity and the knowledge systems that sustain it provide the basis to transform agriculture for our good and that of the planet. However, to demonstrate agrobiodiversity, we need mechanisms to trace the journey from where our food ingredients are grown to the markets where they are consumed. For such traceability, we now have scientific and management tools to analyze the genetics, management, processing, products, end-users, and markets for different crops at specific locations and across regions. By spanning the whole value chain, these tools also allow us to follow data on the origin, ingredient integrity, quality control, and safety of our food from farm to plate. They can also provide open-access platforms and interfaces to demonstrate agrobiodiversity for different end-users, from policymakers to consumers, farmers and researchers.
Traceability allows us to clarify what we mean by agrobiodiversity and transparency in the supply chains that bring it to our plates. However, by themselves, clarity and transparency are not enough. To deliver a more agrobiodiverse food system, we must gain and retain the trust of all those involved in food cultivation, distribution, processing, marketing, and consumption. Such faith involves a philosophical commitment to the cultures and generational knowledge of the communities who have preserved, protected, and cherished the agrobiodiversity that can nourish us on a hotter planet. Without their trust and commitment, we cannot transform agriculture – for good.
A value chain is the participation of organizations in the process of creating and sharing value, from one to another, from origin to end-user. These include the acquisition and consumption of resources (money, labor, materials, equipment, buildings, land, etc.), as well as the administration and management of these resources.
A glance of what is saved when we save food biodiversity can be seen in the Ark of Taste project, a project of Slow Food and the University of Gastronomic Sciences of Pollenzo aimed at cataloguing the richness of foods in the world, at risk of disappearing.
As a chef for one of the world’s largest contract food service companies, I can’t say that agrobiodiversity or sourcing transparency often crossed my mind. Sure, I understood that eating a wide variety of food from varying agricultural sources was good for people and the planet, but not specifically why. Then, the CIA’s Menus of Change happened. Suddenly, it dawned on me that I was standing at the nexus of using my organization’s menus and purchasing capital to help change what we feed our customers, safeguard the environment, and empower our consumers to respond to climate change with their forks directly.
The first major agricultural product we focused on was amaranth, and I needed to figure out where we would source enough of it to supply it to 3000 kitchens across North America. I wasn’t worried. How hard could it be to source amaranth? Undoubtedly, the company we contract for specialty whole grains could help us. But then, reality set in. Yes, they carried amaranth, but only in 200-pound bags for their industrial companies because no restaurants or commercial kitchens were buying it. Could I still find a source? Sure. Our distributor carried a “generic” 10-pound box readily available. This was when I realized that even when you work for a company that has committed to incorporating biodiverse ingredients into our food offer in a significant way, almost universally, the supply chain either couldn’t give me what I needed or, if they could, couldn’t guarantee that the ingredients they were offering represent the same values and principals we want to support through our food purchases and ultimately what ends up on our customer’s plates. So, there was the gauntlet thrown.
As a chef and a parent, I feel a profound responsibility to ensure that the food I put on people’s plates is beneficial for their personal and the planet’s health. I want to help create a supply chain that allows farmers to support biodiversity by giving them resources to help increase the number of agrobiodiverse crops they grow, knowing that they have a customer for these crops, and then being rewarded for responsible agricultural practices. I want an easy way to purchase products with traceability that our chefs can turn into delicious meals. And I want to be able to tell the farmers’ stories so that our customers understand precis who is growing their food and can feel good knowing that the plate of food that was lovingly prepared in one of our kitchens is providing a farmer with a livelihood and helping to reverse climate change. That’s what this activator is trying to do.
Deliciousness is the quality of having a very pleasant taste or smell. Deliciousness is one of the most important aspects in the reawakening of forgotten foods. The work of chefs in this regard is crucial in that through research and the creation of new recipes they are able to value and make desirable foods that once were thought to be poor and tasteless.
Blockchain has been looked at as one of the most promising technologies when it comes to traceability and supply chain control.
Blockchain’s capability of tracking ownership records and tamper-resistance can be used to solve urgent issues such as food fraud, safety recalls, supply chain inefficiency and food traceability and open up a series of interesting perspectives for increasing food security and assuring benefit sharing.
In A Guide to Traceability, A Practical Approach to Advance Sustainability in Global Supply Chains, the United Nations Global Compact and Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) use a hybrid of the widely accepted definition of traceability from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), along with the added key component of a sustainability focus as:
The ability to identify and trace the history, distribution, location and application of products, parts and materials, to ensure the reliability of sustainability claims, in the areas of human rights, labour (including health and safety), the environment and anti-corruption.
Traceability requires a system to follow commodities through different stakeholder processes and custody transfers across supply chains. Such a system must be able to facilitate information sharing between stakeholders to validate claims such as provenance, quality, safety, and product transformations.
However, traceability and transparency are often mistakenly used interchangeably. Supply chain transparency has the explicit goal of making data and information transparently available and is independent of, but well coupled with, traceability.
Fully traceable supply chains can remain opaque if the stakeholders choose not to share data. Further, storytelling content about products is often disconnected from traceability data.
Some also mistakenly believe that technologies like blockchain or artificial intelligence supersede the need for human acceptance and participation for traceability systems to succeed. While tools like blockchain and Internet of Things (IoT) sensors can improve and protect data entered into a system, appropriate reward structures can also incentivize stakeholders to share data.
Supply chain transparency occurs when manufacturers and processors commit to knowing where and how their goods are produced, based on reliable data, and communicate this knowledge to their stakeholders, including customers.
The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) provides research-based policy solutions to sustainably reduce poverty and end hunger and malnutrition in developing countries.
Our goal is to create an international research and education center for those working on renewing farming methods, protecting biodiversity, and building an organic relationship between gastronomy and agricultural science.
Good land is what we want to take care of. We want to claim it back when it is marginalised, neglected, exploited and not respected. We want the land to be once more a connection to the future.
The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) is a non-profit, non-political organization that conducts agricultural research for development in the drylands of Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.
M S Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) established in 1988 is a not-for-profit trust. MSSRF was envisioned and founded by Professor M S Swaminathan, agriculture scientist with proceeds from the First World Food Prize that he received in 1987.
As Australia’s specialist international agricultural research for development agency, our purpose is to broker and fund research partnerships between Australian scientists and their counterparts in developing countries.
Our mission is to introduce and implement climate smart restorative agriculture to farmers which produces a variety of highly nutritious organic foods to reduce malnutrition, improve food security and create sustainable jobs while improving the environment.
Organic Trade & Investments (OTI) is an Export trading Company, a Producer, Distributor, and an E-retail sale of 100% organic products and 100% non-GMO, made by indigenous people of the land, using traditional methods
Down-to-Earth Innovations offers a variety of professional consulting services to advance sustainable, equitable and organic agriculture and food systems, natural resource management, business sustainability and social responsibility, food security and justice, wellness, and on related issues.
Providing best water quality conditions to ensure optimal living condition for growth, breeding and other physiological needs
Water quality is sourced from natural seawater with dependency on the tidal system. Water is treated to adjust pH and alkalinity before stocking.
Producers that own and manages the farm operating under small-scale farming model with limited input, investment which leads to low to medium production yield
All 1,149 of our farmers in both regencies are smallholder farmers who operate with low stocking density, traditional ponds, and no use of any other intensification technology.
Safe working conditions — cleanliness, lighting, equipment, paid overtime, hazard safety, etc. — happen when businesses conduct workplace safety audits and invest in the wellbeing of their employees
Company ensure implementation of safe working conditions by applying representative of workers to health and safety and conduct regular health and safety training. The practices are proven by ASIC standards’ implementation
Implementation of farming operations, management and trading that impact positively to community wellbeing and sustainable better way of living
The company works with local stakeholders and local governments to create support for farmers and the farming community in increasing resilience. Our farming community is empowered by local stakeholders continuously to maintain a long generation of farmers.
Freezing seafood rapidly when it is at peak freshness to ensure a higher quality and longer lasting product
Our harvests are immediately frozen with ice flakes in layers in cool boxes. Boxes are equipped with paper records and coding for traceability. We ensure that our harvests are processed with the utmost care at <-18 degrees Celsius.
Sourcing plant based ingredients, like soy, from producers that do not destroy forests to increase their growing area and produce fish feed ingredients
With adjacent locations to mangroves and coastal areas, our farmers and company are committed to no deforestation at any scale. Mangrove rehabilitation and replantation are conducted every year in collaboration with local authorities. Our farms are not established in protected habitats and have not resulted from deforestation activity since the beginning of our establishment.
Implement only natural feeds grown in water for aquatic animal’s feed without use of commercial feed
Our black tiger shrimps are not fed using commercial feed. The system is zero input and depends fully on natural feed grown in the pond. Our farmers use organic fertilizer and probiotics to enhance the water quality.
Enhance biodiversity through integration of nature conservation and food production without negative impact to surrounding ecosysytem
As our practices are natural, organic, and zero input, farms coexist with surrounding biodiversity which increases the volume of polyculture and mangrove coverage area. Farmers’ groups, along with the company, conduct regular benthic assessments, river cleaning, and mangrove planting.
THE TERM “MOONSHOT” IS OFTEN USED TO DESCRIBE an initiative that goes beyond the confines of the present by transforming our greatest aspirations into reality, but the story of a moonshot isn’t that of a single rocket. In fact, the Apollo program that put Neil Armstrong on the moon was actually preceded by the Gemini program, which in a two-year span rapidly put ten rockets into space. This “accelerated” process — with a new mission nearly every 2-3 months — allowed NASA to rapidly iterate, validate their findings and learn from their mistakes. Telemetry. Propulsion. Re-entry. Each mission helped NASA build and test a new piece of the puzzle.
The program also had its fair share of creative challenges, especially at the outset, as the urgency of the task at hand required that the roadmap for getting to the moon be written in parallel with the rapid pace of Gemini missions. Through it all, the NASA teams never lost sight of their ultimate goal, and the teams finally aligned on their shared responsibilities. Within three years of Gemini’s conclusion, a man did walk on the moon.
FACT is a food systems solutions activator that assesses the current food landscape, engages with key influencers, identifies trends, surveys innovative work and creates greater visibility for ideas and practices with the potential to shift key food and agricultural paradigms.
Each activator focuses on a single moonshot; instead of producing white papers, policy briefs or peer-reviewed articles, these teams design and implement blueprints for action. At the end of each activator, their work is released to the public and open-sourced.
As with any rapid iteration process, many of our activators re-assess their initial plans and pivot to address new challenges along the way. Still, one thing has remained constant: their conviction that by working together and pooling their knowledge and resources, they can create a multiplier effect to more rapidly activate change.
Who can enter and how selections are made.
A Greener Blue is a global call to action that is open to individuals and teams from all over the world. Below is a non-exhaustive list of subjects the initiative targets.
To apply, prospective participants will need to fill out the form on the website, by filling out each part of it. Applications left incomplete or containing information that is not complete enough will receive a low score and have less chance of being admitted to the storytelling lab.
Nonprofit organizations, communities of fishers and fish farmers and companies that are seeking a closer partnership or special support can also apply by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org and interacting with the members of our team.
Special attention will be given to the section of the form regarding the stories that the applicants want to tell and the reasons for participating. All proposals for stories regarding small-scale or artisanal fishers or aquaculturists, communities of artisanal fishers or aquaculturists, and workers in different steps of the seafood value chain will be considered.
Stories should show the important role that these figures play in building a more sustainable seafood system. To help with this narrative, the initiative has identified 10 principles that define a more sustainable seafood system. These can be viewed on the initiative’s website and they state:
Seafood is sustainable when:
Proposed stories should show one or more of these principles in practice.
Applications are open from the 28th of June to the 15th of August 2022. There will be 50 selected applicants who will be granted access to The Lexicon’s Total Storytelling Lab. These 50 applicants will be asked to accept and sign a learning agreement and acceptance of participation document with which they agree to respect The Lexicon’s code of conduct.
The first part of the lab will take place online between August the 22nd and August the 26th and focus on training participants on the foundation of storytelling, supporting them to create a production plan, and aligning all of them around a shared vision.
Based on their motivation, quality of the story, geography, and participation in the online Lab, a selected group of participants will be gifted a GoPro camera offered to the program by GoPro For A Change. Participants who are selected to receive the GoPro camera will need to sign an acceptance and usage agreement.
The second part of the Storytelling Lab will consist of a production period in which each participant will be supported in the production of their own story. This period goes from August 26th to October 13th. Each participant will have the opportunity to access special mentorship from an international network of storytellers and seafood experts who will help them build their story. The Lexicon also provides editors, animators, and graphic designers to support participants with more technical skills.
The final deadline to submit the stories is the 14th of October. Participants will be able to both submit complete edited stories, or footage accompanied by a storyboard to be assembled by The Lexicon’s team.
All applicants who will exhibit conduct and behavior that is contrary to The Lexicon’s code of conduct will be automatically disqualified. This includes applicants proposing stories that openly discriminate against a social or ethnic group, advocate for a political group, incite violence against any group, or incite to commit crimes of any kind.
All submissions must be the entrant’s original work. Submissions must not infringe upon the trademark, copyright, moral rights, intellectual rights, or rights of privacy of any entity or person.
Participants will retain the copyrights to their work while also granting access to The Lexicon and the other partners of the initiative to share their contributions as part of A Greener Blue Global Storytelling Initiative.
If a potential selected applicant cannot be reached by the team of the Initiative within three (3) working days, using the contact information provided at the time of entry, or if the communication is returned as undeliverable, that potential participant shall forfeit.
Selected applicants will be granted access to an advanced Storytelling Lab taught and facilitated by Douglas Gayeton, award-winning storyteller and information architect, co-founder of The Lexicon. In this course, participants will learn new techniques that will improve their storytelling skills and be able to better communicate their work with a global audience. This skill includes (but is not limited to) how to build a production plan for a documentary, how to find and interact with subjects, and how to shoot a short documentary.
The Lexicon provides video editors, graphic designers, and animators to support the participants to complete their stories.
The submitted stories will be showcased during international and local events, starting from the closing event of the International Year of Fisheries and Aquaculture 2022 in Rome, in January 2023. The authors of the stories will be credited and may be invited to join.
Storytelling lab participation:
Applicants that will be granted access to the storytelling Lab will be evaluated based on the entries they provided in the online form, and in particular:
Applications will be evaluated by a team of 4 judges from The Lexicon, GSSI and the team of IYAFA (Selection committee).
When selecting applications, the call promoters may request additional documentation or interviews both for the purpose of verifying compliance with eligibility requirements and to facilitate proposal evaluation.
Participants to the Storytelling Lab who will be given a GoPro camera will be selected based on:
The evaluation will be carried out by a team of 4 judges from The Lexicon, GSSI and the team of IYAFA (Selection committee).
Incidental expenses and all other costs and expenses which are not specifically listed in these Official Rules but which may be associated with the acceptance, receipt and use of the Storytelling Lab and the camera are solely the responsibility of the respective participants and are not covered by The Lexicon or any of the A Greener Blue partners.
All participants who receive a Camera are required to sign an agreement allowing GoPro for a Cause, The Lexicon and GSSI to utilize the films for A Greener Blue and their promotional purposes. All participants will be required to an agreement to upload their footage into the shared drive of The Lexicon and make the stories, films and images available for The Lexicon and the promoting partners of A Greener Blue.
Please share your comments and questions and get a response from a real person!