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Racing to Safeguard Agrobiodiversity

On September 25th, the “Global Day of Action” for the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, I joined a line-up of chefs, farmers, seed savers, educators, policymakers and consumers in an immersive experience designed to raise awareness of the importance of crop diversity and its connection to healthy soils and resilient, sustainable agricultural systems. Discussions focused on what the future of food could be like if we conserve and use the amazing diversity of our foods.

What’s good on a farm and on your plate is diversity. By rotating crops and increasing the diversity of farmland, including livestock production, we create a diverse food supply chain that positively impacts healthy, nutritious, and delicious diets. The challenge is farm production needs time to supply these diverse crops, and the supply chain needs to be patient enough to allow the production to come on stream.  Our panel highlighted the work of the FACT group to identify principles of biodiversity.  That work is important because it can encourage the production of biodiverse crops.  One of the great things was to see the interest of fellow panelists from Unilever and Compass in supporting biodiversity who are large-scale companies, and at the same time, biodiverse crops can support great opportunities for small enterprises to deliver diverse products into select markets.


One question that came up was livestock. Noted groups like the Rodale Institute, who had spoken earlier that day, have long focused on the importance of the classical vision of mixed or integrated farming. Grazing spaces play an important role in farming, as they usually consist of grasslands suited to livestock production based on seasonality and rain. If we extract the grazing spaces from our environment, we would deplete soils very quickly as we crop them intensively. We shouldn’t focus on the elimination of livestock from our farms, but instead on striking the balance more effectively. Agrobiodiversity includes a diverse selection of livestock and crops because livestock breeds are under just as much pressure of consolidation and minimization as we see in seed cropping.


An agrobiodiverse future means conserving and using the amazing diversity of our foods. The full event is available on YouTube and our panel is at 2:32:58  



Thanks for having me Food Forever and do remember to indulge your Half Cup Habit (a half-cup of pulses 3 times a week) to support biodiversity.


This event was hosted by the Food Forever Initiative in partnership with Pocono Organics, Rodale Institute, and the Crop Trust.

Robynne Anderson

Robynne has extensive experience in the agriculture and food sector, working throughout the value chain – from basic inputs to farmers in the field to the grocery store shelf. She works internationally in the sector, including speaking at the United Nations on agriculture and food issues, and representing the International Agri-Food Network at the UN.Throughout her career she has worked with farm organisations like the Prairie Oat Growers Association, the National Smallholder Farmers Association of Malawi and the Himalayan Farmers Association, as well as global groups, to further the voice of agriculture in the food debate. She has also worked with Fortune 500 companies growing worldwide businesses to assist them with issues management and strategy decisions.

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