Biodiversity and productivity

Biodiversity and productivity

A.B.M Touhidul Alam from Dhaka::

The earth is only planet that has unique natural assets made up of plants, animals, land, water, the atmosphere and human. Together we all form part of the planet’s ecosystems, which means if there is a biodiversity crisis, our health and livelihoods are at risk too. The dynamics of changes in natural systems and of human responses are quite different. This is due to the fact that it takes time for changes in an ecosystem to become apparent. Biodiversity contributes many aspects of human well-being, for instance, by providing raw materials and contributing to health. This is true that, at present 50 millions of poor farmer from Asia, Africa and South America are playing vital role for food security in this region.

A scientific research stated that the earth has about 3 to 10 million of plants, animals and microbes. They are linked different types of interactions with each other, and also many of them are critical for their survival and reproduction. No organism exists in isolation. Individual organisms live together in an ecosystem and depend on one another. The ecosystem includes all of the living things (plants, animals and organisms) in a given area, interacting with each other, and also with their non-living environments (weather, earth, sun, soil, climate, and atmosphere). They possess very complex, wonderful interaction of living things and their environment.

Rice the major cereal crop is covered with 77 percent of the total cultivatable land in Bangladesh. Rice fields are economically important as well as ecologically valuable. There exist almost 650 diversified plants, insects and microbes in rice habitat those which have close interaction with each other. This type of interaction reduces harmful pest infestation of rice field. On the other hand, there are some beneficial and harmful pests which maintain equilibrium in rice ecosystem. The physical and biological components of our environment are all interrelated. When one component of the ecosystem is damaged, sooner or later the other components will also be affected from the tiniest organism to the biggest of animals. Thus, the rice fields need to be given the attention they need and deserve. Many of our rice fields are converted to commercial lands that destroy many plant and animal habitats. Therefore, it is no doubt that ecological agriculture is the best way to keep biodiversity that are practiced by the small holders through family farming.

As of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), when agriculture started about 10000 years back, we had about 7000 types of plant and some thousands of animals which provided food and shelter. Now a day unfortunately 75 % of global food is coming from only 12 types of plant and 5 kinds of animals. Of which 60% plant derived food comes from rice, wheat and maize. According to FAO, 75% of the crops genetic erosion occurred and 30% species of plant and animal under threat. A report titled ‘Biodiversity, Development and Poverty Alleviation: Recognizing the Role of Biodiversity for Human Well-being-2011’ published by UNFP and CBD mentioned that 60% of natural environment degraded over last 50 years and decreased agro biodiversity by 600 billion dollars over last 10 years. Apart from this, 35% of mangrove forest, 40% of forest and 50 % wetland have lost by last century. The same article revealed that 70% people directly depend on agro-biodiversity.

Realizing the upcoming threat the United Nations General Assembly declared 2010 as the International Year of Biodiversity (IYB) which was a year-long celebration of biological diversity and its value for life on Earth. The International Year of Biodiversity meant to help for raising awareness regarding the importance of biodiversity through activities and events in many countries.

Globalization and introduction of chemicals agriculture gradually has changed traditional agricultural system that adversely affected agro-biodiversity and deplete genetic resources. Global demand and consumption of agricultural crops for food, feed, and fuel is increasing at a rapid pace. To satisfy the growing, worldwide demand for grain, two broad options are available like increasing the production area and improvement of productivity on existing farmland. These two options are not mutually exclusive and both will be employed to produce the additional food.

Sustainable crop production entails not only environmental responsibility, but also socio-economic responsibility. Sustainable crop production is a way of growing or raising food in an ecologically and ethically responsible manner. This includes adhering to agricultural and food production practices that do not harm the environment and that support and sustain local communities. On the other hand, industrial crop production is in contrast to sustainable crop production. The industrial crop production generally relies upon mono-cropping (growing only one crop in a large area of land), intensive application of commercial fertilizers, heavy use of pesticides, and other inputs that are damaging to the environment, to communities, and to farm workers.

No matter who we are, or where we live, our well-being depends on the way ecosystems work. They can even contribute to our spiritual well-being, through their cultural or religious significance or the opportunities they provide for recreation or the enjoyment of nature. We are also the part of ecosystem. Unfortunately, sometimes we destroy the ecosystem. The global demand for plant-derived products, such as feed and food, is increasing dramatically; unfortunately, the poorest people on earth will be the first victims of expected food shortage. It is obvious that there is an obvious and urgent need to further increase crop productivity. How can we deal with these exponentially growing demands for food, feed and bio-energy? How can we cope with the fact that we will have to produce more food on less arable land, under environmentally more challenging conditions? It is true that our indiscriminate use would destroy our existence for the earth. Therefore, we all should be careful for our interest.

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