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Biodiversity, Agriculture and Food Security
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Plants, animals and fish are our main sources of food. Biodiversity, through agriculture, is an important component of food security because species diversity provides the genetic material for food and agricultural crops.

Wild animals are also important for the healthy growth and pollination of cultivated plants. Many species of insects, birds and bats are pollinators and dispersal agents of fruits and other crops, besides playing an important role in maintaining rainforest dynamics. In addition, domestic animals may be improved by cross-breeding with wild relatives. Conservation programmes of indigenous farm animal genetic resources, such as Kedah-Kelantan cattle, are very important by providing broad gene pool and genetic improvement for future food security in terms of quality meat production.

Malaysia’s fisheries industry has grown significantly over the last two decades. Marine catches have been steadily rising from about 800,000 tonnes in 1980 to over 1.48 million tonnes in 2013. Mangrove swamps are feeding and nursery grounds for fisheries, as well as being the habitats of several of our important commercial fishes and shrimps.

Rice is an important staple food for Malaysians and many other Asian societies. Malaysia has many wild varieties and land races of rice including those that are uniquely cultivated by indigenous people. Currently, 12,258 accessions of rice from indigenous, wild and cultivated sources are conserved in genebanks as genetic materials for further improvement. Protection of such biological diversity is critical for food security.

FAO has estimated that about 10,000 to 50,000 plant species are edible. However, only about 150 to 200 species are cultivated as food. This means that there are many more species that can potentially be used and commercialised as food.

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