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.

Connect to the Underutilized Crop Interest Group here.

Please note that the links listed below may lead to additional resources which have not yet been added to this collection.


  1. 1985-06-01 The moringa tree, Moringa oleifera, has probably been the most popular plant in ECHO's seed bank of underutilized tropical crops. The tree is native to India but has been planted around the world and is naturalized in many locales. Moringa goes by many names. In the Philippines, where the leaves...
  2. 1983-01-01 Amaranth [Amaranthus hypochondriacus, A. cruentus (grain type) & A. tricolor (vegetable type)] is an herbaceous annual with upright growth habit, cultivated for both its seeds which are used as a grain and its leaves which are used as a vegetable or green. Both leaves and seeds contain...
  3. 1984-01-19 Leucaena leucocephala ("koa haole"-Hawaii; ipil ipil - Phillipines) is a fast-growing, leguminous tree that can be used for reforestation, for firewood, and as a forage crop that can equal alfalfa in nutritional value. There are three basic types of leucaena trees: Hawaiian, Salvador, and Peru....
  4. 1984-04-20 This technical note was published in the early 80's when there were relatively few sources of information on, or seed for the the neem tree. In recent years much progress has been made in each of these areas. The information contained in this technical note is still quite valuable. A good source...
  5. 1989-01-01 Maize (Zea mays; corn) is the third most important food crop in the world, surpassed onlyby two other grains, wheat and rice. Maize is a widely adapted crop, capable of production during the appropriateseason in almost all parts of the world where farming is done. Maize is represented by...
  6. 1990-01-01 I often tell folks that ECHO specializes in growing food under difficult conditions. The pigeon pea, Cajanus cajan, is a prime example of a tough but nutritious plant for just such cases. This article is directed toward two audiences. For some of you, pigeon pea is already an important crop. You...
  7. 1998-06-01 There are more than one hundred major species of fruits in the tropics, which make a very interesting contribution to the appetite as well as to good nutrition. These species vary in ecological requirements, in season of production, in yields, uses and, of course, in many other characteristics....
  8. 1998-10-01 Jicama (Pachyrhizus erosus) of the fabaceae or leguminosae family is a short-lived perennial, often grown as an annual leguminous climbing vine, which during short days will flower, produce long, inedible pods, and develop tuberous roots. These are few in number per plant, usually spherical, but...
  9. 1999-01-01 The cashew, Anacardium occidentale, is a resilient and fast-growing evergreen tree that can grow to a height of 20 m (60 ft). It belongs to the family Anacardiaceae, which also contains poison ivy and the mango. Native to arid northeastern Brazil, the cashew was taken around the world by the...
  10. 2006-01-01 Dr. Martin Price, co-founder of ECHO and former head of ECHO’s Agricultural Resources Department, has said, “I would consider chaya to be one of the five most important underutilized food plants ECHO distributes. I give it this rank because of its ability to thrive in both arid and rainy regions,...
  11. 2007-01-01 In a world where hunger and poverty are issues with a large percentage of the population, technology and education are wanting, and agricultural resources are often scarce, a farmer is thankful for low-maintenance crops that will grow with a minimal input of effort and resources. Lagos spinach...
  12. 2011-01-20 Over the past 30 plus years that we have been working with small-scale farmers in Central Africa, we have enjoyed the wonderful lushness of its forests, savannahs, and rivers. In addition, we have been privileged to get to know some of the many people groups, with their different cultures and...
  13. 2013-01-20 About 98% of agricultural production in the Sudano Sahelian region of West and Central Africa is based on rainfed crops. With a mean annual rainfall of 300 to 800 mm/year, the number of staple crops is very limited. It includes two grain crops: pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum) for sandy soils...