Biodiversity Friendly Practices for Sustainable Agri-Supply Chains

22 May, 2020

A Case Study from the Spice Sector

The agriculture sector can play a vital role in the rapid transition to a green economy. This sector includes crops, agroforestry and food processing. Most of the Agri and Food sector is dependent directly on natural resources for production and processes, and have a huge impact on it. Moreover, the current practices followed by producers are not very sustainable, and create challenges of biodiversity loss, soil erosion, water contamination and pests. Various studies have reported that overexploitation of nature and unsustainable use of natural resources destroys habitats, biodiversity and results in unsustainable supply chains, thus increasing competition for both businesses and producers who rely upon it.

The agriculture sector is a major natural resource-based trade that has the potential to provide biodiversity benefits by applying sustainable management systems and adopting innovative technologies and practices. Understanding the linkages between biodiversity and agricultural production and converting it into management practices will ensure sustainable supply of agricultural produce. It will also guarantee delivery of safe food, fuel, fibre and good ecosystem services from which all businesses can benefit. In exchange, businesses learn to better manage and mitigate their impact on biodiversity and ecosystem services.

Although different forms of agriculture benefit biodiversity and support habitats, the real challenge in the coming years will be the shift to sustainable agriculture, and combating negative impacts of intensive agriculture on the environment and high dependence on non-renewable resources. Good agricultural management practices can result in an almost carbon-neutral sector while promoting biodiversity-friendly production and processing.

The private sector engaged in the Agri and Food production and processing is one of the engines of economic growth in India and plays a critical role in promoting environmental and social sustainability. Scaling up biodiversity-friendly measures and integration into the supply chain can improve food and nutritional security, protect the ecosystem, reduce environmental pollution and support sustainable supply chains. They should systematically review their operations in relation to biodiversity and ecosystem services (BES) and assess the impact of direct and indirect drivers of change in ecosystem services on their business.

The global Private Business Action for Biodiversity (PBAB) project promotes biodiversity-friendly production and commercialisation with the Agri and Spice industries in India. The focus of the project lies on supporting micro-small and medium enterprises dependent on ecosystem services and biodiversity and often face challenges when introducing innovations. In India, the project has identified and established instruments and mechanisms like Biodiversity Action Plans (BAP) that promote biodiversity-friendly production and commercialisation in the spice sector.

Spice production is highly dependent on the healthy functioning of ecosystems that provide ecosystem services like fresh water, nutrient cycling, pollination and soil fertility. Spices are grown by millions of small producers in India which makes the sector highly relevant for job creation and poverty reduction. In last few years, the Western Ghats have faced the challenges of changing weather conditions, land degradation, loss of soil fertility and water scarcity, which is adversely affecting the spice production in the region. These challenges indirectly affect companies that source spices and impact the long-term sustainability of their supply chain. With the help of the PBAB project, spice companies identified the operational risks by using biodiversity assessment tools in their supply chain to measure the impact and dependency on biodiversity and ecosystem services. This was followed by developing Biodiversity Action Plans to mitigate and manage the identified risks. In this manner they were able to reduce the pressure on biodiversity and ecosystem services by managing and mitigating their impacts.

For further information connect Private Business Action for Biodiversity Project (PBAB)

By Dr Poonam Pande


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