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Underutilized crops are often indigenous ancient crop species which are still used at some level within the local, national or even international communities, but have the potential to contribute further to the mix of food sources than they currently do.

ECHO's Tech Notes on Underutilized Crops



  1. 19/05/1982 Many of you are familiar with the book Under-exploited Tropical Plants with Promising Economic Value. In the early 1970s , the U.S. National Academy ofSciences surveyed scientists around the world to determine which plants had the greatest potential for introduction to other tropical countries....
  2. 20/07/2008 Our goal from the start has been to enable members of our network to not only read about promising plants that have not been grown in the countries where they work, but to also get free trial packets of seed so they can evaluate the plants’ potentials themselves. If farmers are interested, they...
  3. 20/07/2008 Brief descriptions of annual underutilized crops for which ECHO provides seeds.
  4. 03/10/2022 ECHO often receives questions about crop selection as network members start new agricultural initiatives or enter a new area. Each agroecosystem is complex and should be evaluated for production, environmental, and socioeconomic tradeoffs as you consider the selection of a crop for cultivation,...
  5. Eric Toensmeier conducts a workshop in 2012 @ ECHO-Florida highlighting some of the 4000+ plants grown on the ECHO Global Farm in North Fort Myers, FL. For more from Eric Toensmeier, check out http://carbonfarmingsolution.com/
  6. 01/03/2021 Several species of edible ferns exist around the world, ranging from the tropics to more temperate regions, and most commonly include the bracken ferns (Pteridium spp.), ostrich fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris), and the Stenochlaena spp. ferns. However, the focus of this study is on the vegetable...
  7. Key Resource Despite the incredible diversity of useful plants that exist, a small handful of crops feed the majority of the world and millions of people still suffer from malnutrition and poverty. This talk will discuss some often overlooked crops that have the potential to alleviate suffering through...
  8. 03/03/2015
  9. 02/12/2015 This topic discusses neglected and underutilized plant species further, particularly as they relate to agriculture, gender, biodiversity, and nutrition and how they can be utilized by communities and farmers.
  10. 02/12/2015 Defining neglected and underutilized plant species, why they are important, how they relate to agro-biodiversity, and how they can be identified through the use of community surveys
  11. 03/03/2015
  12. This group page exists so that individuals involved in Underutilized Crops around the world can connect. We encourage you to share the challenges you face in yourendeavors, discuss lessons and techniques learned through your experiences, and share your story!
  13. 02/02/2016 A presentation on utilizing local food knowledge in the context of community development. The need for agrobiodiversity and the potential of “neglected and underutilized species” to address current problems. This presentation also discusses methods for surveying and identifying underutilized...
  14. Key Resource 25/01/2008 This book is the third in a series evaluating underexploited African plant resources that could help broaden and secure Africa's food supply. The volume describes 24 little-known indigenous African cultivated and wild fruits that have potential as food- and cash-crops but are typically overlooked...
  15. Key Resource 01/02/1998 Handy for commercial producers as well as backyard gardeners, this useful guide for growers and sellers of niche market produce provides detailed information about growing specialty crops that are growing in popularity among consumers. Includes 63 crop sheets from arugula to radicchio, basil to...
  16. Key Resource 01/01/1992 This booklet has been produced by the South Pacific Commission and provides information on green leafy vegetables found and grown in the area. The booklet begins by describing the relationship between photosynthesis and the ways in which leaves utilize nutrients, and the beneficial dietary and...
  17. Key Resource 01/10/1998 Third Edition [library also has 2 copies of the 1975edition] People interested in tropical gardening or botany will find this an indispensable guide to several hundred species of plants with edible leaves. Leaves can provide high-quality food, and in the tropics, many are from perennials...
  18. Key Resource 27/10/2006 This report is the second in a series of three evaluating underexploited African plant resources that could help broaden and secure Africa's food supply. The volume describes the characteristics of 18 little-known indigenous African vegetables (including tubers and legumes) that have potential as...
  19. 01/01/1999 This book lists and illustrates many traditional food plants of Kenya. Available Online
  20. Key Resource 16/08/1993 The CRC Handbook of Alternative Cash Crops describes 128 crop plants that can be grown as alternatives to cultivated crops, such as tobacco, and narcotic crops, such as opium poppy. Material is presented in alphabetical order by genus and species and includes information on ecology, cultivation,...
  21. Key Resource 01/04/2000 Until the beginning of the 20th century, people in Africa depended to a significant extent on food which had its origins in Africa. A diverse range of originally wild African species was domesticated a long time ago and included rootcrops, cereals, legumes and many different vegetables. Popular...
  22. Key Resource 14/02/1996 Scenes of starvation have drawn the world's attention to Africa's agricultural and environmental crisis. Some observers question whether this continent can ever hope to feed its growing population. Yet there is an overlooked food resource in sub-Saharan Africa that has vast potential: native food...
  23. Biodiversity, food security, nutrition, health, economic development – all these topics are high on the agenda of numerous organisations around the world and are the goals of global campaigns, initiatives, task forces and research projects. And they all have one thing in common: they are all...
  24. PROTA stands for Plant Resources of Tropical Africa . It is an international documentation programme on the useful plants of Tropical Africa. It synthesizes dispersed information, makes it readily available in various forms and stimulates its use for extension, education, research, development...
  25. Abstract,International Food Policy Research Institute, 2006 Modern crop production is based on only a few plant species. Particularly in marginal environments of developing agricultural economies, many less well-known agricultural or nontimber forest species, continue to be grown, managed or...
  26. The NUS Community is an on-line platform for sharing research results, development news and policy advice regarding the use and conservation ofneglected and underutilized species, or NUS for short. The platform aims to support research and promote the use of neglected and underutilized crops and...
  27. Agriculture was the basis of the Mesoamerican civilizations. It is estimated to have taken centuries to develop and its final stage - which became known to Europeans in 1500 - is thought to have been the result of an accumulation of practices and materials invented and perfected by the various...
  28. This International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, August 9, is an opportunity to celebrate the ecological and cultural value of indigenous foodways. In 1994, the United Nations General Assembly declared the day to encourage the world to protect and promote the rights of indigenous...
  29. Purslane, orPortulaca oleracea, is a garden weed that is edible and has many health benefits. Find out the benefits of the purslane plant here, and get a purslanerecipe! PURSLANE HEALTHBENEFITS Like many other weeds, purslane is not onlyediblebut also far more nutritious than many of the crops...
  30. Clive Cookson DECEMBER 6, 2017 12 Remarkably few plant and animal species dominate global agriculture and food production. Cattle, sheep, pigs and poultry make up most of the livestock sector, while wheat, maize, rice and soya account for 60 per cent of the world’s total crop output. Fewer than...
  31. MISSION To develop solutions that diversify agriculture using underutilised crops. OUR GOALS To secure a greater role for underutilised crops in global agriculture, especially in developing regions of the world. Through our research, provide trusted knowledge on underutilised crops. With our...
  32. The tropical plant collection on the grounds of TARS is one of the finest and best documented in the Western Hemisphere. It has been built up over more than half a century by collections from all over the tropical world and consists of more than 2,000 permanently established species. Among the...
  33. Chaya grows easily in Cambodia Chaya (Cnidoscolus chayamansa or C. aconitifolius) is a perennial plant that grows easily throughout Cambodia. Many people know it by the name “spinach tree”. If left alone, a Chaya plant can grow to be a small tree about 4- 5m high. By pruning the plant, it grows...
  34. The tree spinach (Cnidoscolus chayamansaMcVaughn, Euphorbiaceae), called "chaya" in south Texas, is popular in Mexico and Central America and has been introduced into the United States (mainly South Texas and Florida) for potential uses as a leafy vegetable and/or as a medicinal plant. The plant...
  35. Abstract: World Journal of Medical Sciences, 2016 This study investigated the phytochemical contents and nutritional profile of Cnidoscolus aconitifolius leaf collected from Abakaliki Southeast Nigeria. The phytochemical, proximate and mineral content analyses were done using standard methods,...
  36. There are around 30,000 edible plant species in the world, but just 30 species of crop account for 95% of what we eat. Most edible plant species – known as neglected and underutilised species (NUS), or orphan crops – are overlooked in agricultural development. These crops are often nutrient rich...
  37. The seeding rate is the weight of the seed planted per unit area of land for any crop. Typical seeding rates range from a few pounds per acre to over 100 lbs/acre. The crop yield is the weight of the produce from a harvested crop. In many cases, the produce is itself a seed that can be replanted....
  38. 14/11/2018 Despite the incredible diversity of useful plants that exist, a small handful of crops feed the majority of the world and millions of people still suffer from malnutrition and poverty. This talk will discuss some often overlooked crops that have the potential to alleviate suffering through...
  39. Abstract,Institute on the Environment, 2013 Worldwide demand for crops is increasing rapidly due to global population growth, increased biofuel production, and changing dietary preferences. Meeting these growing demands will be a substantial challenge that will tax the capability of our food...
  40. The potential of so-called underutilised crops for human nutrition and as a source of income for poor farmers in the Global South was discussed at the Elsevier International Conference on Global Food Security in Cape Town, South Africa. Researchers from Kenya, Germany and the USA presented their...
  41. In Niger, a social enterprise is using local plants that are resistant to the arid climate of the Sahel to produce nutritious food. The result is better incomes for farmers and a preserved environment. The nutritional value of the leaves, flowers, fruit and seeds of some 15 wild plants are being...
  42. 01/02/1980 Agriculture Handbook no. 8-6 330 pages, plus appendices, tables
  43. This special issue of the ATDF Journal is dedicated to the Orphan Crops of Africa. Although orphan crops are also known by different names (e.g. underutilized-, lost- or disadvantaged-crops), they all refer to a group of crops that are vital to the economy of developing countries due to their...
  44. Over the years it has become increasingly difficult for the more than 250 million Indians whose livelihood depends on agriculture, to make a sustainable income. Overcome by their extreme economic pressures, many take drastic steps to end their suffering. Reports suggest that, burdened by the...
  45. 21/11/2019 Session :This session shares lessons and experiences from an IFAD-supported project on Neglected and Underutilized Species (NUS) implemented by Bioversity International and its partners in Guatemala. The project deployed Rapid Market Appraisal (RMA) tools to conduct a value chain assessment and...
  46. Abstract, Foods, 2019 Malnutrition has been a serious issue in Ghana and Africa as a whole. However, the potential of many indigenous fruits to combat it has not yet been tested. Therefore, this study aimed to determine the nutritional characteristics of four underutilized wild fruits (Gardenia...
  47. Abstract,American Journal of Plant Sciences, 2019 With the rapid rise in the population, there is higher demand of the food supply to fed millions of people. As such dependence on the few major staple crops to meet the needs of the people has led to increases in starvation and poverty....
  48. Abstract, BioResources, 2018 The world has huge floral diversity, whereas there often is poor and irrational utilization, especially of indigenous plants and residues from agricultural processes. Trees, shrubs, and herbs can have multiple uses at different levels as medicines and sources of...
  49. 01/01/1983 This book looks at food processing wastes, industrial nonfood processing wastes, forest residues, animal wastes, crop residues, and aquatic plants as to their value and safety as animal feedstuffs.
  50. Crops that have been forgotten over the last century are being rediscovered. Scientists and policymakers are now beginning to recognize the value of so-called ‘orphan' crops, affirming what local communities have known for generations. The African Yam Bean, the Desert Date and Ber (a stocky tree...
  51. 20/10/2011
  52. Conveners C. Ravindran J. Rajangam K. Manonmani A. Kalaiselvan Editors C. Ravindran S.K. Malik D. Avanzato L. Pugalendhi Publicaton date June 2019 Number of articles 105 Pages 727 Symposium venue Madurai, Tamil Nadu (India) Symposium date August 5, 2015
  53. 20/03/2004 Underutilized plant species Roselle in Senegal and Mali Canahua deserves to come back Genetic erosion of canahua Growing and marketing Andean grains Fonio: a small grain with potential Taro in Vanuatu Masuku Home gardens Native fruits Marugu Women reintroducing neglected crops The slow food...
  54. Citation : Cerón-Souza, I.; Galeano, C.H.; Tehelen, K.; Jiménez, H.R.; González, C. Opportunities and Challenges to Improve a Public Research Program in Plant Breeding and Enhance Underutilized Plant Genetic Resources in the Tropics. Genes 2021, 12, 1584. https://doi.org/10.3390/genes12101584...
  55. 20/03/2009 Diversity and efficiency: the elements of ecologically intensive agriculture Seeds, knowledge and diversity in the hands of small-scale farmers in Honduras Living the sustainable life - managing a dryland family farm Making the most of underutilised crops Improving livelihoods with underutilised...
  56. Muhammad, I.; Rafii, M.Y.; Ramlee, S.I.; Nazli, M.H.; Harun, A.R.; Oladosu, Y.; Musa, I.; Arolu, F.; Chukwu, S.C.; Sani Haliru, B.; et al. Exploration of Bambara Groundnut (Vigna subterranea(L.) Verdc.), an Underutilized Crop, to Aid Global Food Security: Varietal Improvement, Genetic Diversity...
  57. Food security globally is constrained by several factors including the heavy reliance on very few key staple crops. In Africa, food insecurity has been increasing due to the effects of climate change, insecurity caused by terrorism, social and boundary conflicts, uncontrolled rapid population...
  58. Ndam, G. N., Gomerep, B., Dewan, G. A., Igwebike, I. S., Ngamarju, A. T., & Dapel, A. S. (2018). Nutritional, Elemental and Amino Acid Profile Analyses of the Seeds of Aspilia africana: A Neglected and Underutilized Species (NUS).Asian Food Science Journal,6(1), 1–8....
  59. Okigbo, R. N. and Ugwu, C. S. (2021). Neglected crops of Africa. International Journal of Agricultural Technology 17(6):2197-2210. The neglected crops have not been fully realized in their potential. They are well adapted to several weather conditions in different locations, in particular,...
  60. Global Food Security, March, 2022,https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gfs.2022.100613 Until recently, many so-called neglected and underutilized species (NUS) were not present in global markets despite playing a pivotal role in the local livelihoods in their places of origin. Today, some NUS receive...
  61. Li, X,Siddique, KHM.Future Smart Food: Harnessing the potential of neglected and underutilized species for Zero Hunger.Matern Child Nutr.2020;16(S3):e13008.https://doi.org/10.1111/mcn.13008 Achieving Sustainable Development Goal 2: ‘Zero Hunger’—eradicating all forms of hunger and malnutrition—is...
  62. Mugiyo H, Chimonyo VGP, Sibanda M, Kunz R, Nhamo L, Masemola CR, et al. (2021) Correction: Multi-criteria suitability analysis for neglected and underutilised crop species in South Africa. PLoS ONE 16(10): e0259427. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0259427 Several neglected and underutilised...
  63. da Cunha, M.A., Paraguassú, L.A.A., Assis, J.G.d.et al.Urban gardening and neglected and underutilized species in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil.J Ethnobiology Ethnomedicine16, 67 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13002-020-00421-0 Urban agriculture has been evidenced as a food production and...
  64. Front. Nutr., 19 November 2020, Sec. Nutrition and Sustainable Diets,Volume 7 - 2020 |https://doi.org/10.3389/fnut.2020.593711 Asia continues to suffer from a high prevalence of malnutrition. Persistent malnutrition can be attributed to low dietary diversity, together with low production...
  65. AGROFOR International Journal, 2022 Neglected and underutilised species (NUS) are widely claimed to contribute to sustainability and sustainable development. Verifying such a claim implies the use of a scientifically sound assessment tool. In this context, the present article aims to suggest a...
  66. A Contextualized Learning Manual for African Colleges and Universities Kasolo, W., Chemining’wa, G., and Temu, A. 2018. Neglected and Underutilized Species (NUS) for Improved Food Security and Resilience to Climate Change: A Contextualized Learning Manual for African Colleges and Universities,...
  67. Institute of Agriculture and Animal Science, Lamjung Campus, Nepal, 2021 Neglected and underutilized species (NUS) are proven superfoods, but still many of those species are not mainstreamed in our food system. In this regard, research was carried out to explore diversity and identify prioritized...
  68. Maria Vittoria Conti, Ausilia Campanaro, Paola Coccetti, Rachele De Giuseppe, Andrea Galimberti, Massimo Labra, Hellas Cena, Potential role of neglected and underutilized plant species in improving women’s empowerment and nutrition in areas of sub-Saharan Africa,Nutrition Reviews, Volume 77,...
  69. A. Dansi, R. Vodouhè, P. Azokpota, H. Yedomonhan, P. Assogba, A. Adjatin, Y. L. Loko, I. Dossou-Aminon, K. Akpagana, "Diversity of the Neglected and Underutilized Crop Species of Importance in Benin",The Scientific World Journal, vol. 2012, Article ID 932947, 19 pages, 2012....
  70. CROPS4HD is an international collaborative project of three NGOs co-funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, Global Programme Food Security. Starting in 2021, it will run for ten years. CROPS4HD collaborators are SWISSAID, FiBL, and AFSA. CROPS4HD seeks to improve food security...
  71. NewCROP (New Crops Resource Online Program) is an information-rich site related to crop plants. It is a project of the Purdue University Center for New Crops and Plant Products and is associated with the New Crop Diversification project and the Jefferson Institute.
  72. 31/03/2023 by Sovanneary Huot, Dr. David Ader, Dr. Srean Pao, Dr. Ricky Bates, and Hans Goertz This recipe and nutrition guide is written in Khmer and focuses on wild food plants, sometimes called neglected and underutilized species, of the country of Cambodia. Smallholders forage and/or cultivate plants...
  73. Soni, Jeetendra & Lalramhlimi, B. & Kumar, Amit & Navik, Omprakash & Singson, Lungmuana & Sailo, Lalhruaitluangi & Doley, Sunil. (2023). Coix: an underutilized functional food crop of Mizoram. Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution. 1-17. 10.1007/s10722-023-01587-8. Coix...
  74. Food and Fertilizer Technology Center for the Asian and Pacific Region, 2019
  75. This 2018 study highlights that neglected and underutilized species (NUS) play an important role in diversifying the diets of indigenous peoples and smallholder farmers, in particular as part of their coping strategies during the hunger season. However, many of the wild plants and minor crops...
  76. IFAD, 2019 Agrobiodiversity is a resource that supports human and environmental wellbeing. IFAD’s support for the better use of agrobiodiversity with specific reference to neglected and underutilized species (NUS) and a greater recognition of the traditional knowledge of Indigenous Peoples...
  77. A alimentação da população mundial vem se caracterizando pelo predomínio de alimentos industrializados e baixo consumo de vegetais, incluindo plantas nativas. Essas espécies são ricas em nutrientes e apresentam potencial para a diversificação das dietas, podendo contribuir para a promoção da...