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Published: 1996-04-19

LOST CROPS OF AFRICA. VOLUME 1: GRAINS (383 pp.) is now available from ECHO! This is the newest in the National Academy of Sciences series on very promising but little-known or neglected species. Writing was funded by USAID. This inspiring volume (the first of three which are planned) discusses the potential of African grains for producing food and other products in Africa and around the world.

The series is “intended as a tool for economic development” among those who may promote these crops for local cultivation, develop markets for the grains, and explore the multiple uses of these species. The species discussed in this series were selected from nominations by people around the world (see EDN 29-3). The information given about the crops helps readers to understand and appreciate the unique value of each plant and evaluate its potential for a given area. There are also very insightful appendixes on “potential breakthroughs” in some of the most pressing problems for development workers, including grain handling and child nutrition.


The species covered include: African rice, finger millet, fonio (acha), pearl millets, sorghums (subsistence, commercial, specialty, and fuel and utility types), tef, other cultivated grains (guinea millet, emmer, irregular barley, and Ethiopian oats), and wild grains. These plants offer much promise because they tolerate many extreme growing conditions and produce well with minimal inputs. They are generally nutritious and offer new flavors. They also offer other benefits; for example, the “fuel and utility sorghums” are used as firewood, liquid fuels, soil reclamation, wind erosion protection, weed control, crop support, fibers, brooms, and animal feeds. As with all the NAS books, further reading and many research contacts are given for each crop.

Available through the ECHO online bookstore – http://www.echobooks.net/ Also available to read online at http://www.nap.edu/catalog/2305/lost-crops-of-africa-volume-i-grains

Cite as:

ECHO Staff 1996. Lost Crops of Africa. Volume 1: Grains. ECHO Development Notes no. 52