Policies To Promote The Conservation And Sustainable Use Of Agricultural Biodiversity

Leslie Lipper1 and David Zilberman2

'Economist, Agricultural and Development Economic Analysis Division, Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N., Viale delle Terme di Caracalla 0010,0 Rome, Italy; 2Professor, Agricultural and Resource Economics, 207 Giannini Hall, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720

Abstract: The paper finds that agricultural biodiversity conservation generates several types of benefits, which are realized by different groups in society and over time. The nature and distribution of benefits is an important basis for prioritizing, designing, and financing conservation programs. Maintaining a high level of agricultural biodiversity has been found to have high use values to farm populations in highly heterogeneous and marginal production areas, and many of these areas will also likely be significant providers of option and existence values from in situ conservation. An important means of achieving efficient and equitable agricultural biodiversity conservation is identification of areas where there are high potential productivity gains to be made from increasing and enhancing the diversity available to farmers, as well as those which are likely to provide the highest option values of conservation and targeting these for priority under conservation funding. We have also discussed the effectiveness of various types of payment mechanisms for conservation, depending on the supplier and consumer of the good, as well as its nature. A key theme throughout our discussion has been the importance of recognizing human knowledge as a key component of agricultural biodiversity and, thus, the necessity of incorporating means for knowledge preservation as much as the physical conservation of agricultural biodiversity.

Key words: agricultural biodiversity; ex situ conservation; in situ conservation; plant genetic resources.

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