THE ACCELERATOR ON BIODIVERSITY has established an initiative called FACT: Food, Agrobiodiversity, Clarity, and Transparency: A Global Roundtable on Food Biodiversity. FACT addresses the challenges food companies face in sourcing crops and ingredients that enhance biodiversity. The roundtable links farmers and supply chain decision makers with a specific intent: to create more transparent and diversified food supply chains that reward farmers for practices that promote biodiversity. FACT also contributes to the broader goal of the Activator, which is to facilitate dialogue between supply chain decision makers and stakeholders in the food and farming sectors to identify ways to diversify systems across the agrifood sector, and improve the sharing of benefits in the supply chain.
While there is a lot of agricultural and cultural biodiversity in the world, we underutilize it in our food system. This simplification of food systems contributes to malnutrition, land degradation, and market vulnerability. It is often difficult to find information that relates to questions surrounding crops and their contribution to agrobiodiversity. This difficulty is exacerbated by the myriad definitions of biodiversity and rapid increase in news and stories that traffic in oversimplification of biodiversity loss.
It is especially challenging for food companies to know how to find resources or tools (or how to use them effectively) for evaluating specialty crops, ingredients, and/or products for purchase for various uses. Due to this deficit of universally agreed upon information supply chains often remain “blind,” leading to environmental and nutritional problems.
The increase in production and support of diverse crops enables new marketing opportunities, both locally and abroad, which can offer added value to producers and their communities, especially if they are accompanied by efforts to gain fair compensation through fair trade certification or related programs that support fair benefit-sharing. Many of these efforts are accompanied by the use of more sustainable practices, often building on traditional or local knowledge, along with principles of agroecology. They include a mix of methods to build soil microbiology and soil health, reducing synthetic agrochemicals which can harm beneficial insects, and overall, agro-biodiverse systems of production (such as polycultures, cover cropping, intercropping, and conservation of habitat). These types of sustainable practices also help to build resilience to climate change.