Published: 2 May 2020
The world population is projected to become 10 billion by the end of this century. This growing population exerts tremendous pressure on our finite food resources. Unfortunately, the lion-share of the global calorie intake is reliant upon a handful of plant species like rice, wheat, maize, soybean and potato. Therefore, it is the need of the hour to expand our dietary reliance to nutritionally rich but neglected, underutilized and yet-to-be-used wild plants. Many wild plants are also having ethnomedicinal and biocultural significance. Owing to their ecosystem plasticity, they are adapted to diverse habitats including marginal, degraded and other disturbed soil systems. Due to these resilient attributes, they can be considered for large-scale cultivation. However, proper biotechnological interventions are important for (i) removing the negative traits (e.g., low yield, slow growth, antinutritional factors, etc.), (ii) improving the positive traits (e.g., nutritional quality, stress tolerance, etc.), as well as (iii) standardizing the mass multiplication and cultivation strategies of such species for various agro-climatic regions. Besides, learning the biocultural knowledge and traditional cultivation practices employed by the local people is also crucial for their exploitation. The Special Issue “Wild Crop Relatives and Associated Biocultural and Traditional Agronomic Practices for Food and Nutritional Security” was intended to showcase the potential wild crop varieties of nutritional significance and associated biocultural knowledge from the diverse agroecological regions of the world and also to formulate suitable policy frameworks for food and nutritional security. The novel recommendations brought by this Special Issue would serve as a stepping stone for utilizing wild and neglected crops as a supplemental food. Nevertheless, long-term cultivation trials under various agro-climatic conditions are utmost important for unlocking the real potential of these species.
Keywords: agrobiodiversity; biocultural knowledge; crop improvement; dietary diversification; field gene banks; food and nutritional security; planetary healthy diet; traditional agronomic practices