‘Our Biodiversity, Our Food, Our Health’
Today is the International Day of Biological Diversity. On this day people all over the world recognise and honour the rich and abundant diversity of all species on earth and Bioversity International is delighted to be part of this great celebration. When most people think about biodiversity, they think about the photogenic animals that make the headlines such as the rhino, lion or the iconic crested crane – species at the verge of extinction in Uganda. We hear a lot about biodiversity loss, indicating that the rate at which species are going extinct is both unprecedented and accelerated. Although these animals are an important component of our biodiversity, what rarely makes the headlines but is fundamental to us as a source of both food and income is the loss of agricultural biodiversity. This biodiversity includes the thousands of varieties of plants, animals and other organisms which are critical for agricultural ecosystems.
According to the Convention on Biological Diversity, in the last 100 years, more than 90% of crop varieties and 50% of the breeds of domestic animals have been lost from farming communities globally. Wild food sources, for example, nuts and fruits from wild trees are also under threat. Uganda is ranked among the top ten most biodiverse countries in the world, endowed with great diversity of animal and plant species, despite the high rate of biodiversity loss of 10-11% per decade.
Although there is no complete record of the status of agricultural biodiversity in Uganda, of the estimated 1,400 indigenous plant species in Uganda (many of whose potentials have not been exploited), 30 species are known to be endangered, 43 are rare and 10 are vulnerable.