Fighting poverty, hunger and malnutrition with neglected and underutilized species
Despite getting little attention from researchers, crop breeders and policymakers, neglected and underutilised plant species (NUS) play a vital role in household nutrition for millions of families. This short, attractively presented guide outlines their value to food security, food system resilience, nutrition, livelihoods and cultural identity, drawing on success stories from around the world. In India and Nepal, for example, NUS have played a prominent role in empowering women and boosting their self-esteem and self-confidence. In Bolivia, a partnership with a coffee-shop chain helped popularise new snacks made from amaranth flour.
The book also sets out the key challenges facing NUS, including climate change, loss of knowledge and genetic diversity, lack of research, poor competitiveness and lack of infrastructure, and inappropriate policies and programmes. Raising the profile of NUS requires the development of better varieties, improvement of cultivation practices, value adding technologies and access to markets, and the development of policies to support sustainable conservation and use. The book outlines eight separate actions that are required to achieve this, including: changing perceptions of NUS as unimportant 'poor man's food'; developing capacity in researching, teaching, policymaking, trading and farming; undertaking more research on NUS; setting up global on-farm NUS conservation programmes; and finding innovative ways to upgrade NUS market chains and develop and market value added products.
Date published: December 2013
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