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How Have Markets Affected the Governance of Agrobiodiversity?

  • Jager, Matthias
  • van Loosen, Irene
  • Giuliani, Alessandra
Publication Date
Feb 11, 2019


This book chapter is focused on the role of markets (especially those of agricultural products) as a form of agrobiodiversity governance. The expansion of these global agricultural product markets during the past two decades has generally furthered the simplification of agricultural and food systems, reducing the diversity within crop and animal species. Farmers who continue to conserve on-farm agrobiodiversity are providing the global public goods of food security and environmental sustainability insurance for the world’s population, nowadays and for future times. However, as markets or other global institutions are not compensating farmers for conserving high levels of agrobiodiversity, these farmers face little private incentive to maintain on-farm conservation practices and may resort to practices that result in reduced levels of agrobiodiversity, leading to the destruction of local food systems and general biodiversity loss. To enhance both agrobiodiversity conservation and income generation through market-based instruments endeavors to place a value on agrobiodiversity that signal its true production cost and contributions to genetic resource usage should be further developed. It is proposed that payments for agrobiodiversity conservation schemes and niche market development through differential marketing, labels, certification schemes, and agrotourism should be complementary in providing a stronger foundation for agrobiodiversity conservation activities, building on both private sector investment and government funds. Depending on the context, these measures can have great potential for the successful marketing of agrobiodiversity and agrobiodiversity niche products through collective action. However, several constraints and possible unintended consequences of market-based approaches to agrobiodiversity conservation should be taken into account.

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