The Importance of Biodiversity for Agriculture – Essay
Contribution of landraces from South Asian gene banks is estimated at US$150-200 million per year. Contribution of wheat -germplasm from the International Maize and Wheat Research institute ranges between US$300 million to US$11 billion a year.
Total annual value of seed sector activities world-wide is estimated at about US$45 billion. Total output from world’s agro ecosystems each year amounts to some US$1.3 trillion. Biodiversity and especially the maintenance of wild relatives of domesticated species are essential for sustainable agriculture.
Maintenance of diversity is a matter of global, not just local concern. Human society is highly dependent on genetic resources, including those from wild and semi-domesticated sources for productivity in agriculture, livestock and fisheries.
These resources also provide communities from where the varieties can be created that best cope with changing local conditions. Human existence and that of most other organisms is heavily dependent on primary producers, mainly plants.
Five thousand plant species have been used as food by humans, but less than twenty now feed the majority of world’s population and just three or four carbohydrate crops are staples for a vast majority.
One of the important benefits of conservation of biodiversity is the wild plant gene pool which is available to augment the narrow genetic base of these established food crops, providing disease resistance, improved productivity and different environmental tolerances.