chapter  10
23 Pages

The production of food and the biodiversity connection

ByIvette Perfecto, John Vandermeer, Angus Wright

Coffee and cacao have become iconic crops for the idea of wildlife-friendly agriculture, but people need to eat and most of the food they consume does not come from these highly diverse agroforestry systems. The sort of analysis of matrix quality so evident in the case of coffee and cacao may not apply in the case of these food crops. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, the world has lost 75 per cent of its food diversity over the last century. This chapter examines how food crops also relate to our main themes of how agriculture affects biodiversity conservation. It focuses on the rice agroecosystem as an important repository of biodiversity and second on maize and its traditional production system. Rice is the staple food for half of the world’s population, and the main source of employment and income for many of the world’s poorest people in the world.