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Neglected and Underutilized Species stay in the spotlight

Indian woman pounding minor millets - a neglected and underutilized species

Following the 3rd International Conference on Neglected and Underutilized Species held in Ghana in September 2013, a flurry of activities are making sure that neglected and underutilized food crops stay under the spotlight.

On 25-27 September, home grown food security was at the centre of the 3rd International Conference on Neglected and Underutilized Species (NUS 2013). The 3-day event looked at using NUS, as key to improving the livelihoods of people living in rural poverty.

NUS, also known as orphan crops, are often traditional or locally growing food species that fall outside the mainstream of agricultural research and development agendas, yet often they are rich in nutrients and well-adapted to low input agriculture.

Following the conference, New Agriculturist published an issue of the magazine with a special focus on the value of the world's plant genetic potential. This edition outlines how NUS can contribute to health, resilience and improved livelihoods. Contributors to the ‘Points of view’ section discuss the research and policy implications if the potential of NUS is to be achieved, while the Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR) research and innovation section examines the development of value chains for wild plants and underutilized crops with commercial potential.

This November issue highlights three initiatives carried out by Bioversity International and partners, that show how:

  • efforts in India to market minor millet varieties, that are often nutritious and grow well in erratic rainfall patterns and in poor soils can reap rewards for rural women
  • smallholder farmers in Bolivia, India and Nepal are using agricultural biodiversity to mitigate the effects of climate change
  • quinoa diversity is being marketed in Bolivian coffee shops, including a quinoa chocolate chip cookie, helping to improve smallholder farmers’ livelihoods.

To read the special issue, Opens external link in new windowvisit the New Agriculturalist website.

Later this month, the Accra Statement for A Food Secure Africa Declaration will also be published. This also resulted from the 3rd International Conference on Neglected and Underutilized Species and will be a position statement put together by conference delegates, collaborators and like-minded organizations that will form the basis of a policy brief to raise awareness and drive action for NUS in Africa. Watch the Bioversity website for further updates.

If you missed the conference and want to find out more, please Opens external link in new windowvisit the NUS 2013 website.