Remembering forgotten crops – developing new value chains
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 latest research results.
World-wide, the challenge is emerging to provide a growing population with the right amount of food at the right time while making sure that diets are nutritious and of high quality. Large shares of the population in developing economies continue to be confronted with insecure food supplies and, on top of this, malnutrition persists. Moreover, growing economies and low-to-middle income countries (LMIC) are experiencing an influx of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes, obesity and cardio-vascular disease. Therefore, agriculture and biodiversity’s role in fighting malnutrition, food insecurity and growing levels of NCD incidence has gained a key status in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Next to these challenges, the SDGs also highlight the importance of biodiversity for humans. This is where the concept of agrobiodiversity – practising agriculture while maintaining biodiversity – comes in. Despite a plethora of edible plants that are known, human diets are relying more and more on a limited array of crop species to satisfy nutritional needs, resulting in a loss of diversity on fields – and on plates. This leads us to the proposition to realise the chances of reincorporating “forgotten or orphaned”, so-called underutilised crops in people’s menus and on farmers’ fields.