Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Underutilized Crops

Underutilized crops are those which are not in the mainstream food production like millets, local crops, native fruit crops etc.. Globally more than 80% of the food requirement is met by merely 15 crops. Woefully, emphasis on research and development programs is on the major 15 crops; research programs on breeding, agronomy, crop protection etc. Every variety of a crop throws a gamut of challenge to the scientists to find an appropriate answer and most of the solutions are short lived and static. 

On the contrary there are nearly 7000 species of plants which don’t require the conventional technical agro-inputs; they just grow naturally by utilizing the natural resources.In the present climate change scenario, there is need to use the abundant biodiversity which is available in every region.

With ignorance a large number of plants that we see around are termed as 'weeds'. There is need for rethinking and redefining the term weed. They are not unwanted plants. Weeds are the plants whose use and potentials are not known to humans. With awareness, research and sharing information on these ‘orphan crops’ we can reduce pressure on the main staple food crops and solve the food crisis.

There is enough in this world for everyone's need, but not enough for everyone's greed. —Mahatma Gandhi 

Let me share my experiences on some underutilized crops from Bhutan. To begin with, Slippery gourd or Cyclanthera pedata which is not only an excellent vegetable but also has lot of nutrition and health benefits. Though the origin of this crop is Andes, it is very popular in Bhutan and the Himalayan region. 

To know more about this underutilized crop visit  http://www.cropsforthefuture.org/2011/10/cyclanthera-pedata-from-the-andes-to-the-himalayas/

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