Assessing the Impacts of Agrobiodiversity Maintenance on Food Security Among Farming Households in Sri Lanka’s Dry Zone
Farmers’ maintenance of agrobiodiversity is fundamental to global food security, particularly in a world increasingly affected by climate change. Biodiversity helps to buffer agroecosystems from stresses like climatic variability, and the crop genetic diversity conserved with biodiverse agroecosystems is critical for plant breeding both locally and globally. Yet, despite these benefits, few studies have directly assessed the implications of household–level agrobiodiversity maintenance on household food security. Drawing on survey data collected in Sri Lanka’s Hambantota District, we evaluated the plant diversity maintained by small–scale farming households in both homegardens and crop fields and determined the relationships between this diversity and their households’ food security. We also considered how a suite of additional demographic, household, community, and farm characteristics relate to both the plant diversity maintained by a household and their food security. Similar to previous studies, the age of the agricultural decision-maker and the age and size of households’ homegardens positively correlated with the overall species richness of farming systems. Older homegardens were also identified to be more evenly distributed in their species abundance, and market–oriented households had significantly higher species richness but lower Shannon Indices. Most notably, household socioeconomic status and material wealth were important to both agrobiodiversity maintenance and household food security, while no significant relationships between species richness and food security measures were detected. These findings suggest that effort aiming to increase the food security of small–scale farming households in Sri Lanka, and elsewhere, should target those farming households with a paucity of socioeconomic assets, as these households lack both agroecological and economic resources to overcome shocks, such as those associated with climate change.
Key Words:Agrobiodiversity climate change resilience food security small–scale farming Sri Lanka.
We would also like to thank our collaborators at National Building and Research Organization, Sri Lanka and Kalpani Wijesinghe, our fieldwork assistant nonpareil.
Support for this project was provided by a grant from the National Science Foundation (EAR-1204685).
- Barberyn Ayurveda Resorts and the University of Ruhuna. 2013. Ayurvedic plants of Sri Lanka: plants list. Ayurveda Medicinal Plant Database. http://www.instituteofayurveda.org/plants/plants_list.php?s=Local_name.
- Beals, M., L. Gross, and S. Harrell. 2000. Diversity indices: Shannon’s H and E. 2000. http://www.tiem.utk.edu/~gross/bioed/bealsmodules/shannonDI.html.
- Begum, S. 1987. Minor tank water management in the dry zone of Sri Lanka. Colombo, Sri Lanka: Agrarian Research and Training Institute.Google Scholar
- Brush, S. B. 2004. Cultural research on the origin and maintenance of agricultural diversity. In: Nature knowledge. Ethnoscience, cognition, and utility, eds. O. Sanga, G. Sanga, and G. Ortalli, 379–385. Brooklyn: Berghahn Books.Google Scholar
- Department of Census and Statistics. 2015. Sri Lanka Labour Force Survey: Annual Report. Colombo, Sri Lanka.Google Scholar
- Dharmawardana, C. n.d. Sinhala Plant Names - Ethnobotany. Accessed January 18, 2017. http://dh-web.org/place.names/bot2sinhala.html.
- Disaster Information Management System. 2012. Sri Lanka national report on disaster risk, poverty and human development relationship. Colombo, Sri Lanka.Google Scholar
- Ellis, F. 2000. Rural livelihoods and diversity in developing countries. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Eriyagama, N., S. Vladimir, L. Chandrapala, and K. Fernando. 2010. Impacts of climate change on water resources and agriculture in Sri Lanka: A review and preliminary vulnerability mapping. International Water Management Institute, Research Report 135. Colombo, Sri Lanka.Google Scholar
- FAO. 2014. The State of Food and Agriculture: Innovation in Family Farming. Rome: Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations.Google Scholar
- Field Crop Research and Development Institute. 2015. Crops. Department of Agriculture - Sri Lanka. https://www.doa.gov.lk/FCRDI/index.php/en/crop.
- Hawkes, C., and M. T. Ruel. 2006. Understanding the links between agriculture and health. International Food Policy Research Insititute, Brief 1. Washington D.C.Google Scholar
- Iglewicz, B., and D. C. Hoaglin. 1993. Volume 16: How to detect and handle outliers. In: The ASQC basic references in quality control: statistical techniques, ed. Edward F. Mykytka. Milwaukee: ASQ Press.Google Scholar
- IPCC. 2014. Climate Change 2014: Synthesis report. Contribution of working groups I, II and III to the fifth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Geneva, Switzerland.Google Scholar
- Kirby, K. R. 2011. Relative influence of cultural identity and market access on agricultural biodiversity in swidden-fallow landscapes of eastern Panama. Doctoral dissertation. The University of British Columbia, Vancouver.Google Scholar
- Kumar, B. M., and P. K. R. Nair. 2004. The enigma of tropical homegardens. In: New vistas in agroforestry: A compendium for 1st world congress of agroforestry, eds. P. K. R. Nair, M. R. Rao, and L. E. Buck, 135–152. Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands.Google Scholar
- Lalloué, B., J. M. Monnez, C. Padilla, W. Kihal, N. Le Meur, D. Zmirou-Navier, and S. Deguen. 2013. A statistical procedure to create a neighborhood socioeconomic index for health inequalities analysis. International Journal for Equity in Health 12(1): 21. https://doi.org/10.1186/1475-9276-12-21.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- McNeely, J. A., and S. J. Scherr. 2003. Ecoagriculture: Strategies to feed the world and save wild biodiversity. Washington, D.C.: Island Press.Google Scholar
- Mimura, N., L. Nurse, R. F. McLean, J. Agard, L. Briguglio, P. Lefale, R. Payet, and G. Sem. 2007. Small islands. In: Climate Change 2007: Impacts, adaptation and vulnerability. Contribution of working group II to the fourth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, eds. M. L. Parry, O. F. Canziani, J. P. Palutikof, P. J. van der Linden, and C. E. Hanson, 687–716. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Mwavu, E. N., E. Ariango, P. Ssegawa, V. N. Kalema, F. Bateganya, D. Waiswa, and P. Byakagaba. 2016. Agrobiodiversity of homegardens in a commercial sugarcane cultivation land matrix in Uganda. International Journal of Biodiversity Science, Ecosystem Services & Management 12(3): 191–201.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Nazarea, V. D. 2005. Heirloom seeds and their keepers: Marginality and memory in the conservation of biological diversity. Tucson, Arizona: University of Arizona Press.Google Scholar
- Niñez, V. K. 1984. Nature and function of household gardens: General considerations. In: Third annual farming systems research conference, 808–829. Manhattan, Kansas.Google Scholar
- Oksanen, J., F. G. Blanchet, R. Kindt, P. Legendre, P. R. Minchin, R. B. O’Hara, G. L. Simpson, P. Solymos, M. H. H. Stevens, and H. Wagner. 2013. Package ‘vegan.’ R Package Ver. 2.0–8.Google Scholar
- Presidential Task Force on National Food Production. 2016. Food Production National Program 2016–2018. Colombo, Sri Lanka.Google Scholar
- Sangakkara, U. R., and E. Frossard. 2016. Characteristics of South Asian rural households and associated home gardens: A case study from Sri Lanka. Tropical Ecology 57(4): 765–77.Google Scholar
- Shah, T., M. Samad, R. Ariyaratne, and K. Jinapala. 2013. Ancient small-tank irrigation in Sri Lanka: Continuity and change. Economic & Political Weekly 58(11): 58–65.Google Scholar
- WFP. 2008. Food consumption analysis: Calculation and use of the food consumption score in food security analysis. United Nations World Food ProgrammeRome, Vulnerability Analysis and Mapping Branch. Rome, Italy.Google Scholar
- WFP and HARTI. 2005. Sri Lanka food security atlas: Livelihoods, food security, and resilience. Colombo, Sri Lanka: World Food Programme.Google Scholar