Advancing Agrobiodiversity

About this Publication

Agrobiodiversity is the subset of biodiversity found within agricultural ecosystems. It feeds us with nutrients vital to our health. It fuels and furnishes our homes. It underpins cultural traditions. It sustains farm productivity in the face of climate change. But agrobiodiversity is rapidly being lost. 

Just three crops account for half of all plant-based calories (rice, maize and wheat). Most of the world’s remaining agrobiodiversity is now conserved by 1.3 billion smallholder farmers and Indigenous Peoples. But the march of cheap, industrial-scale, monoculture food systems displaces these smallholders and Indigenous Peoples – with dire prospects for global resilience and food security.

Food system transformation is required. This report documents five innovative system-wide strategies and 18 tactics emerging among smallholder farmer and Indigenous People’s organisations to deliver just that: promoting nutritional and medicinal health; sharing knowledge and seed to cultivate complexity; diversifying enterprises that aggregate multiple products; self-mobilising flexible finance; bolstering political will for system change. 

Government and donor decision-makers need to recognise the centrality of this work, improve efforts to get climate and nature finance to these local groups, and improve their representation in farm system transformation processes.



Duncan Macqueen




International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED)