In this article, You will read Agro Biodiversity and Agro Biodiversity Hotspots in India – for UPSC IAS.

Agro Biodiversity

Agrobiodiversity is the result of the interaction between the environment, genetic resources, and management systems and practices used by culturally diverse people. This is the result of both natural selection and human invention developed over millennia.

  • It comprises the diversity of genetic resources (varieties, breeds) and species used for food, fodder, fibre, fuel, and pharmaceuticals.
  • It also includes the diversity of non-harvested species that support production (soil microorganisms, predators, pollinators), and those in the wider environment that support agro-ecosystems (agricultural, pastoral, forest, and aquatic) as well as the diversity of the agro-ecosystems.
agro biodiversity upsc

Benefits of Agrobiodiversity

  • Increases productivity, food security, and economic returns.
  • Reduces the pressure of agriculture on fragile areas, forests, and endangered species.
  • Makes farming systems more stable, robust, and sustainable.
  • Contributes to sound pest and disease management
  • Conserves soil and increases natural soil fertility and health.
  • Reduces dependency on external inputs.
  • Improves human nutrition and provides sources of medicines and vitamins.
  • Conserve ecosystem structure and stability of species diversity.
Agricultural Biodiversity

Significance of Agrobiodiversity for India

India’s promising genetic resources include rice from Tamil Nadu (Konamani), Assam (Agni bora) and Kerala (Pokkali), Bhalia Wheat and mushroom (Guchhi) from Himachal Pradesh, and rich farm animal native breeds — cattle (42), buffaloes (15), goat (34), sheep (43) and chicken (19). Since, genetic diversity of crops, livestock, and their wild relatives, are fundamental to improve crop varieties and livestock breeds, this can help in the following ways:

  • In combating hunger: India is ranked 102 in the Global Hunger Index (GHI) out of 117 qualified countries.
    • Hunger is defined by caloric deprivation; protein hunger; hidden hunger by the deficiency of micronutrients.
  • Malnutrition: Nearly 47 million or four out of 10 children in India do not meet their potential because of chronic undernutrition or stunting.
    • This leads to diminished learning capacity, increased chronic diseases, low birth-weight infants from malnourished parents.
    • The global nutrition report pegs 614 million women and more than half the women in India aged 15-49 as being anaemic.
  • Agrobiodiversity can help in nutrition-sensitive farming and bio-fortified foods.
    • For instance, moringa (drumstick) has micronutrients and sweet potato is rich in Vitamin A. There are varieties of pearl millet and sorghum rich in iron and zinc.
  • This will help India achieve UN Sustainable Development Goal 2 (Zero Hunger) and the Aichi Biodiversity Target (focuses on countries conserving the genetic diversity of plants, farm livestock and wild relatives).

Agrobiodiversity In India

  • Across the world, 37 sites are designated as Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS), of which three are Indian — Kashmir (saffron), [Koraput (traditional agriculture), Odisha], and [Kuttanad (below sea-level farming), Kerala].
    • “Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems” (GIAHS) are outstanding landscapes of aesthetic beauty that combine agricultural biodiversity, resilient ecosystems, and valuable cultural heritage.
  • In India, over 811 cultivated plants and 902 of their wild relatives have been documented.

Challenges to Agrobiodiversity

  • Loss of crop genetic resources due to adopting new crop varieties without conserving traditional varieties. For example, Bt cotton.
  • Similarly, there are concerns on high output breeds for the production of meat, milk, and eggs. Crossbreeding of foreign breeds with indigenous breeds leads to erosion of genetically diverse pool.
  • Out of 2,50,000 globally identified plant species, about 7,000 have historically been used in human diets.
    • Today, only 30 crops form the basis of the world’s agriculture, and just three species of maize, rice, and wheat supply more than half the world’s daily calories.

Agro Biodiversity Hotspots in India

S. No.Hotspot RegionAreas Covered
1.Cold DesertWestern Himalayas covering Ladakh and Kargil. Upper reaches of Lahuai-Spiti districts of Himachal Pradesh
2.Western HimalayanDistricts of Srinagar, Anantnag,Udhamput,Riasi, Kathna in Jammu & Kashmir,all the districts of Himachal Pradesh except the cold arid region and all the districts of Uttarakhand.
3.Eastern HimalayanAll the districts of Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Darjeeling district of West Bengal.
4.Brahmaputra ValleyDhubri, Kokrajhar, Bongaigaon, Barpeta, Nalbari, Goalpara, Kamrup, Golaghat, Darrang, Morigaon,Nagaon, Sonitpur, Jorhat, Lakhimpur, Sibsagar, Dibrugarh, Dhemaji and Tinsukia.
5.Khasia-Jaintia-Garo HillsAll the seven districts of Meghalaya,i.e. East Garo Hills, West Garo Hills, South Garo Hills, East Khasi Hills, West Khasi Hills, Jaintia Hills and Ri-Bhoi.
6.North-Eastern HillsAll the districts of Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura and the adjoining Cachar and North Cachar districts of Assam.
7.Arid WesternSikar, Nagaur, Pali, Hanumangarh, Ganganagar, Jalore, Sirohi, Jodhpur, parts of Jaisalmer and Bikaner, Udaipur, Dungarpur, Churu,and Jhunjhunun districts of Rajasthan.
8.Malwa Plateau and Central HighlandsMalwa plateau, Central highlands,the Mewar plateau and semiarid south-eastern Rajasthan. Shadel, Raisen, Bhopal, Sehore, Shajapur, Indore, Ujjain, Mandasaur, Rajgarh Hoshangabad, Narsinghpur,Jabalpur, Mandla, Umaria districts
9.KathiawarAhemadabad, Surendranagar, Jamnagar, Rajkot, Porbandar, Junagadh, Amreli, Bhavnagar,Bharuch, Surat, Navsari, Valsad, Banaskantha and Anand districts of Gujarat.
10.BundelkhandDistricts of Jhansi, Banda, Chitrakoot, Hamirpur, Jalaun and Lalitpur in Uttar Pradesh and Damoha, Datia, Panna, Sagar, Tikamagarh and Chattarpur in Madhya Pradesh.
11.Upper Gangetic PlainsDistricts of Hardoi, Sitapur, Barabanki, Lucknow, Unnao, Rae Bareilly, Kanpur,Kannuj of Central Uttar Pradesh and the districts of Maharajganj, Sidharatnagar, Kushinagar, Deoria, Sant Kabir Nagar,Gorakhpur, Basti of North-eastern Uttar Pradesh.
12.Lower Gangetic PlainsDistricts of Paschim Champaran, Purbi Champaran, Gopalganj, Siwan, Sitamarhi, Muzaffarpur, Saran, Buxar, Bhojpur, Patna, Rohatas, Jahanabad, Vaishali, Samastipur, Darbangha, Madhubani, Sheohar in North Bihar
13.Gangetic DeltaBroadly includes the deltaic 24-Parganas districts, and the districts of Hoogly, Howrah, Nadia, Bardhaman, Birbhum and Murshidabad
14.ChotanagpurDistricts of Singhbhum, Gumla, Ranchi, Lohardaga, Palamau and Hazaribagh and Santhal Pargana in Jharkhand and Mayurbhanj district in Odisha.
15.BastarDistricts of Bastar, Bilaspur, Durg, Jashpur, Kabirdham, Kanker, Kirba, Koria, Mahasamund, Kondaigaon, and Rajnangoan of Chattisgarh
16.KoraputDistricts of Malkangiri, Sonabeda, Jeypore, Koraput, Nabrangpur, Kalahandi, Bolangir, Rayagada of Odisha and districts of north eastern Andhra Pradesh i.e. Srikakulam, Vijanagaram and Vizagapatnam.
17.Southern Eastern GhatsDistricts of Chittoor, Ananthapur, Cuddapah and Kurnool in Andhra
18.KaveriDistricts of Chengalput,South Arcot, North Arcot,Thiuvannamalai, Tiruchirapalli, Pudukottai, Thiruarur, Vellore, Kanchipuram, Dharmapuri,Salem, Namakkal, Karur and Dindigul.
19.DeccanDistricts of Jalna, Hingoli, Parbhani, Beed, Nanded, Latur, Osmanabad, Solapur, Sangli, Gondia, Gadchiroli in Maharashtra, districts of Adilabad, Karimnagar, Warangal, and Khamman in Andhra Pradesh and districts of Bidar and Gulbarga in Karnataka.
20.KonkanCoastal districts of Thane, Raigad, Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg and part of Sahyadri districts of Pune, Satara and Kolhapur of Maharashtra, all the districts of Goa and Uttar Kannada district of Karnataka.
21.MalabarDistricts of Kasargod, Kannur, Wayanad, Kozikode, Malappuram, Palakkad, Thrissur, ldukki, Ernakulam, Alappuza, Kollam, Kottayam, Pathanamthitta & Thiruvananthpuram in Kerala, Udhagamandalam (Nilgiri) and Kanyakumari districts of Tamil Nadu and districts of Dakshin Kannada, Kodagu and Udupi in Karnataka
22.IslandsAndaman and Nicobar Islands and Lakshadweep
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