Our food and agriculture systems today rely too heavily on a very few
plant species, a handful of animal species and marine species. Biodiversity
is indispensable to food and nutrition security, and to ecosystem sustainability.
Traditional resilient crop species are important to diversify our food
systems for a healthy life. Globally, more than 820 million people do not
have enough to eat and food demand is forecast to increase by 2050. With
about 80% of cultivated land in the world, dryland farming plays an important
role in global food security. FAO assessed the drylands to cover more
than 6 billion hectares, including 1 billion in agro-sylvo-pastoral systems
in Africa. Its blueprint for large-scale land restoration based on promoting
biological diversity for small-scale farming delivers multiple ecological and
socio-economic benefits. It is time for scientific expertise to embrace local
knowledge for scaling-up sustainable food and agriculture.