Neglected crops need a rethink

Publication date: 10.12.2012

Author: Vladimir Kakurinov

Neglected crops that are currently underutilized by farmers can play an important role addressing the food and agriculture challenges of the future and should be re-evaluated, FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva said today at the start of an international seminar taking place in this southern Spanish city.

In remarks made at the international Crops for the 21st Century seminar in Córdoba (Spain), Graziano da Silva noted that FAO estimates that some seven thousand species of plants have been cultivated or consumed as food throughout human history. Today, many of these species are disappearing. "If we lose these unique and irreplaceable resources, it will be more difficult for us to adapt to climate change and ensure a healthy and diversified nutrition for all," the FAO chief said.

According to FAO, the caloric intake of most people on the planet is based today on only four crops: rice, maize, wheat and potatoes which lead to "negative consequences for ecosystems, food diversity and our health. The food monotony increases the risk of micronutrient deficiency". This globalization "has created an abundance of food in some parts of the world, but has failed to end the chronic shortages that exist elsewhere", or more precisely "currently there are about 870 million hungry people in the world, a world that produces enough food for everyone," he said.

He added that globalization "has created certain homogeneity of products, accompanied by a loss of different culinary traditions and agricultural biodiversity." To address these challenges, the FAO's top executive has called for more attention to both production and consumption issues. FAO has called for the sustainable intensification of agricultural production via a model it calls "Save and Grow" - a food production model that also preserves and enhances natural resources.

More on this you can read at: