using local plants to control pests, choosing traditional crop varieties that tolerate extreme conditions such as droughts and floods, and planting a diversity of crops to hedge bets against uncertain futures, have largely been ignored.
A report published on Monday by the International Institute for Environment and Development, (IIED) states that Governments are ignoring a vast store of knowledge generated over thousands of years, which could protect food supplies and make agriculture more resilient to climate change.
The report highlights some traditional knowledge such as using local plants to control pests, choosing traditional crop varieties that tolerate extreme conditions such as droughts and floods, and planting a diversity of crops to hedge bets against uncertain futures.
Krystyna Swiderska, a senior researcher at the International Institute for Environment and Development and lead author says, policies, subsidies, research and intellectual property rights promote a few modern commercial varieties and intensive agriculture at the expense of traditional crops and practices,”
Breeding new varieties based on quality traits, and having systems in place to protect biological diversity and share seeds within and between communities, are also cited as some of the traditional forms that could lead to sustainable food production.
The authors say that the capacity of the world’s poorest and most affected communities to adapt to climate change ultimately depends not only on traditional knowledge but on both on the interlinked bio-cultural systems from which new innovations can develop and spread.
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The authors are urging negotiators at the UN climate change conference in Durban later November to give stronger support to traditional knowledge and address the threats posed by commercial agriculture and intellectual property rights.