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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.

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. 2015-03-03
  2. 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...
  3. Rating: 4.0 - 1 Vote
    2008-07-20 Brief descriptions of annual underutilized crops for which ECHO provides seeds.
  4. 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...
  5. Rating: 1.0 - 1 Vote
    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...
  6. 2015-12-02 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.
  7. 2008-07-20 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...
  8. 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....
  9. 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...
  10. 2015-12-02 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. 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...
  12. 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....
  13. 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...
  14. 2015-03-03
  15. 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...
  16. 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...
  17. 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!
  18. 2016-02-02 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...
  19. Development workers have shared recipes for someunderutilized crops. These may provide ideas for the best use of unfamiliar harvests. Please note that the links listed below may lead to additional resourceswhich havenot yet been added tothis collection.
  20. 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...
  21. 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,...
  22. 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...
  23. 2008-01-25 Amazon.com Description 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...
  24. 1998-02-01 Amazon.com Description 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...
  25. 1992-01-01 This booklet has been produced by the South Pacific Commission and provides information on green leafy vegetables found an 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...
  26. Rating: 5.0 - 1 Vote
    1998-10-01 Amazon.com Description 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 requiring little effort for their abundant...
  27. Rating: 5.0 - 1 Vote
    2006-10-27 Amazon.com Description 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...
  28. 1999-01-01
  29. 1984-04-30
  30. 1986-05-15
  31. 1993-08-16 Amazon.com Description 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...
  32. 2005-04-01
  33. 2010-03-31
  34. 1996-02-14 Amazon.com Description 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...
  35. 2002-06-10 Amazon.com Description This National Academy of Sciences report describes plants of the family Leguminosae, all of them greatly underexploited. Some are extensively used in one part of the world but unknown elsewhere; others are virtually unknown to science but have particular attributes that...
  36. 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...
  37. 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...
  38. 1982-05-19 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....
  39. 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...
  40. 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...
  41. 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...
  42. 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...
  43. 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...
  44. 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,...