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Why create a tool to support agrobiodiversity?

While there is a lot of agricultural and cultural biodiversity in the world, we underutilize it in our food systems. This contributes to malnutrition, land degradation, and market vulnerability. It is often difficult to find information that relates to questions surrounding crops and their contributions to agrobiodiversity. This difficulty is exacerbated by the myriad definitions of biodiversity and rapid increase in news and stories that traffic in oversimplification of biodiversity loss. It is especially challenging for food companies to know how to find resources or tools (or how to use them effectively) for evaluating specialty crops, ingredients, and/or products for purchase for various uses. Due to this deficit of universally agreed upon information supply chains often remain “blind,” leading to environmental and nutritional problems. The increase in production and support of diverse crops can enable new marketing opportunities, both locally and abroad, which can offer added value to producers and their communities, especially if they are accompanied by efforts to gain fair compensation through certifications or related programs that support fair benefit-sharing. Many of these efforts build on traditional or local knowledge, along with principles of agroecology. They include a mix of methods to build soil microbiology and soil health and reduce synthetic agrochemicals which can harm beneficial insects. These types of sustainable practices also help to build resilience to climate change.

Making the case for biodiversity

Food companies and entrepreneurs (including processors, manufacturers, retail, and food service) have begun to incorporate more diversity in their supply chains by reviving, sourcing, processing, and selling novel foods and ingredients that support biodiversity, including some that are called “neglected”, “minor”, “underutilized”, “orphan” or “reawakened” foods.
Although these many efforts help to make a difference and present important opportunities, there are still urgent needs to increase agrobiodiversity in food supply chains and to improve dietary diversity globally. One of the primary gaps identified by food companies and producers is the lack of information about the sources of supply and demand for unique crops that support biodiversity, and opaqueness of the supply chain. Therefore, supply chain transparency is an urgent necessity and an opportunity for food companies, producers, and for consumers as well.
Connected Markets: Agrobiodiversity helps to address and fulfill this need for greater transparency and clarity about biodiversity in food systems, and to create opportunities for innovative companies in the supply chain, local food producers, and communities to thrive.

About the Connected Market Tool

This open source, free-to-use tool addresses challenges food companies face in sourcing crops and ingredients to enhance biodiversity. It facilitates dialogue between supply chain decision makers, supports the equitable treatment of farmers, identifies ways to diversify systems across the agrifood sector, and improves the sharing of benefits in the supply chain.

Team

The FACT (Food, Agrobiodiversity, Clarity, Transparency) Accelerator is a multi-stakeholder group of NGOs, agronomists, scientists, farmers, and food companies both large and small.