Table of contents
About this book
Agriculture is the primary human activity: it involves 1.3 billion people, nearly a quarter of the world’s population and half of its labour force. The cultivated area, i.e., the area where humans plan and directly control the vegetation cover, now represents over 20% of the landmass. Faced with the challenges of demography and poverty, agricultural systems, in all their diversity, are being called upon to intensify and enhance the production of goods and services. At the same time, they are expected to be able to cope better with climatic and other risks and uncertainties. How can biodiversity contribute to the transformation of these agricultural systems? The diversity of living organisms has served agriculture since its origins in the Neolithic Era. But modern farming has aimed for ever increasing and consistent yields, relying on massive use of synthetic inputs and fossil energy to do so. Indeed, we seem to have forgotten how much plant, animal and microbial biodiversity are the engine of all production processes and the basis for the regulation of ecosystems, both cultivated and natural. We will have to understand biodiversity better, remobilize it, enrich it and plan it – in one word cultivate it – in order to intensify production in a sustainable manner and ensure global food security. This will put agriculture in the developing world at the centre of discussions on possible transformations of agricultural systems. This book approaches these issues from various angles and shows how these transformations are not limited to the plot and its crop but also concern the profound links between rural communities and their living heritage, their ways to conserve this agrobiodiversity and their innovative ways for benefitting from it.
This book is intended for a scientific audience, researchers and academics from across fields (ecology, genetics, social sciences, plant protection, agronomy, environment, rural development) as well as for the general informed public.
Étienne Hainzelin, agronomist, has a doctorate in plant science. He has held several scientific positions in Côte d’Ivoire, Réunion and several times in Brazil. Former Director of Research and Strategy at CIRAD, he is currently Adviser to the CEO of CIRAD. He is also a visiting professor at the University of Ottawa.Foreword by Gilles Boeuf, President, National Museum of Natural History, Paris and Full Professor, Pierre and Marie Curie University.