Food Security

MMRF is a research and training center committed to promoting applied biodiversity as a means of ensuring food security. Most of the feed we eat is produced on the land. Most Tuesdays or Thursdays we send our surplus to an elderly feeding program run by Helping Older People Equally in nearby Punta Gorda Town, where MMRF interns assist in providing elderly people with fresh, nutritious food.


Food security means all people have access to safe and nutritious food in adequate quantities and varieties to ensore health. Biodiversity makes this possible.

Species diversity in a system is directly correlated with stability. A well-designed farm rich in biodiversity has no waste. Every byproduct is the food for another useful cycle. This interconnectivity and stability is exhibited as resilience in times of batural disaster or unusual weather patterns, and created protection within a commercial structure from the vagaries of markets or the failure of a single crop.


 For home consumption, reliance on crop diversity ensures a well balanced diet. If one crop fails due to a pest or other misfortune, other foods are available to provide the nutrients the failed crop would have supplied.


More calories and more nutrients can be produced when an assortment of species and varieties are grown together than when a few very nutritious annuals are cultivated on the same plot of land. A n established polyculture  requires less energy (but more knowledge) to maintain than a monoculture that uses the same amount of land or produces the same number of calories.


Nature tends toward complexity. Maintainina monoculture clashes with how an ecosystem functions. By accepting and embracing that a complex polyculture s closer to a natural stare of landd, and planting useful species that have a similar expression within the managed ecosystem as their counterparts within a wild ecosystem would, we work with, rather than against, nature.


Species diversity is a safety net for farmers cultivating cash crops. Once again, if one crop fails, the others are still available. If the market price for citrus fals, the vanilla that can be intercropped with the citrus are still waiting ro havest. An agricultural transition from one predominant crop to another is made easier by interplanting within a polyculture. Relying on a biologically diverse system, a farmer can have security for old age oe family emergebcy vty planting mahogany or other valuable timber species within the agroforestry system.
Monocultures are inherently biologically unstable. Nature utilized every niche, and creates a complex integrated system. A field of only one or two species is out of balance and sesceptible to pests and diseases. Howefer, when cultivated within a polyculture the same species would be unaffected. The crop ailment is a product of a system out of balance, a symptom of the problem, not the problem itseld.


The benefits of a balanced ecosysyem go beyond the personal farm to the community in which the farm is located and to the earth as a whole. Polycultures provide many ecological services such as  carbon sequestration, fodder for pllinators, and habitat fcreation (especially for neo-tropical migratory and resident birds). They also provide water and soil retention for the watersheds in which they are practiced, and can function as genetic seed banks for indigenous plant species.


Loss of biological diversity in agriculture is a growing global problem. Igriculture hs been transformed into an anergy and input intensive commodity driven industry. As fewer vaieties of less species are grown, the genetic heritage of agriculture is being lost. Traditional food production techniques that utilize local resources are also being abandoned, a form of cultural and genetic erosion. National and regional food security is jeopardized by dependence on costly imported agrochemicals, fertilizers and seeds.


We are working to retain and increase knowledge of sustainable food production by demonstrating techniques that are geographically and culturally appropriate. This information is being displaced throughout the lowland humid tropics by agrochemical technologies and evolving dependency on imported foods.


Some of the food production models aw practice include agroforestry and aquaponics, and some of the vaulable marketable crops we have include cacao and vanilla.