Root crops diversity and agricultural resilience: a case study of traditional agrosystems in Vanuatu

Agriculture and Human Values 33 (3):721-736 (2016)

Sara Muller
King's College London
In Vanuatu, small-scale farmers’ subsistence still largely relies on the sustainable use and maintenance of a wide-ranging biodiversity out of which root and tuber crops provide the bulk of daily subsistence. In neighboring countries, foreign influence since the first European contacts, further associated changes and the introduction of new crop species have induced a loss of cultivated diversity. This paper presents a baseline study of the diversity of root and tuber crops in ten communities throughout Vanuatu. In a context where the smallholders’ agrosystems are increasingly considered as key components for the global conservation of crop genetic resources, this study provides clues to better understand the effective roles of biodiversity in traditional agrosystems. It also provides insights on the rationale behind the constitution of agricultural portfolios and discusses how the cultivated diversity allows communities to cope with changes and pressures. The paper also shows that recently introduced crops neither seem to have compromised agricultural diversity nor drastically changed the agrosystems in Vanuatu. On the contrary, such crops are used by farmers to strengthen the resilience of their agrosystems. A discussion then presents the idea of continuity through change and novelty as a critical factor for resilience. The paper concludes by discussing the role of indigenous agriculture and culture in ensuring food security and in development strategies in a larger context.
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DOI 10.1007/s10460-015-9657-0
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Biodiversity, Cultural Diversity, and Food Equity.William B. Lacy - 1994 - Agriculture and Human Values 11 (1):3-9.

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