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Focus on... Neglected species

Around the world there are over 7,000 plant species that are cultivated or harvested from the wild for food. But increasingly, global food security has become dependent on a shrinking basket of a select number of crops. Only 150 crops are grown commercially and traded globally, and three main staples, rice, wheat and maize provide over 50 per cent of all the protein and calories consumed worldwide.

With prices for these three crops having recently doubled or even tripled, it is timely to re-focus on the neglected or underutilised crops that can provide food security and income generation, particularly for the poor. In this edition of New Agriculturist, we Focus on a number of plant species that have been overlooked or undervalued but have the potential to provide increased commercial opportunities and improved nutrition for communities in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

African leafy vegetables come out of the shade

African leafy vegetables come out of the shade

Despite being rich in nutrients, African leafy vegetables have been overlooked in favour of more exotic vegetables. But with increasing food prices at local markets, they may yet find their place on the plates of rural and urban households.

Date published: May 2008

Maya nut: a forgotten treasure

Maya nut: a forgotten treasure

With efforts to promote the benefits of the Maya nut tree in the forests of Central America, communities whose Mayan ancestors once relied on this nut as a staple are re-discovering its nutritional value.

Date published: May 2008

More than just popcorn

More than just popcorn

The Matayos Self-Help Youth Group from Busia in western Kenya has developed a machine to 'pop' a range of grains, including sorghum, rice and millet. These are now being marketed as healthy snacks.

Date published: May 2008

Karat Gold - the life-saving banana of Pohnpei

Karat Gold - the life-saving banana of Pohnpei

Eating local food, such as the provitamin A-rich 'Karat' banana, could help reverse an alarming trend of micronutrient deficiency and chronic illness in Micronesia.

Date published: May 2008

Australian acacias for Africa

Australian acacias for Africa

Multi-purpose edible Australian acacias have the potential to be used in sustainable agroforestry farming systems in semi-arid parts of Africa, to rehabilitate degraded farmland and provide a nutritious food source as shown by the work of the Maradi International Development Project in Niger.

Date published: May 2008

The pressing case for moringa

The pressing case for moringa

Cultivation of the moringa tree is gaining in popularity in Kenya. Moringa seed oil is exported to Europe, North America and China for use in the cosmetic industry.

Date published: May 2008

Nature's choice: utilising wild plants in the Philippines

Nature's choice: utilising wild plants in the Philippines

The mountainous region of the Cordillera in the northern Philippines is home to many tribal groups and an extensive range of wild plant species which could be better marketed and consumed more widely.

Date published: May 2008

 

 

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