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CTA. 2008. International viewpoints. Agfax Resource Pack. Wageningen, The Netherlands: CTA.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/57213
Four scientists working in Nigeria, Ghana, Rwanda and Sri Lanka comment on why they believe many indigenous African crops became neglected and forgotten. This may have been because they were difficult to process, or because of the promotion of exotic species. With new technologies, processing problems can now be overcome. As a result, these neglected crops deserve to be looked at again, particularly as they are often more resilient than exotic crops in the face of drought or flooding.
International viewpoints on the world?s neglected crops International vox pop compiled by Wambi Michael Suggested introduction We are blessed in Africa by great variety of indigenous fruits, nuts and leafy green vegetables. These wonderful foods are packed with vitamins and minerals that help to keep the human body in good health. A lot of them are also resistant to pests, and can tolerate tough conditions like drought and floods. But, like indigenous crops the world over, they have been neglected and even forgotten. Why? Our Ugandan correspondent Wambi Michael was in Arusha at an international symposium on neglected crops. He asked scientists from Nigeria, Belgium, Sri Lanka and Rwanda, to explain what could be done to bring neglected crops back and, firstly, how they went out of fashion in the first place. Track 2 In ?We just have to develop interest ? Out ? and make them more valuable.? Duration 4?00? Suggested closing announcement: Odunayo Adeboye encouraging governments in Africa to invest in the continent?s neglected crops. The report featured participants of a recent international meeting on neglected crops held in Arusha, Tanzania. Contact details: Odunayo Clement Adeboye, Obafemi Awolowo University, Department of Plant Science, Ile-Ife, Nigeria, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Hannah Jaenicke, ICUCU, P.O.Box 2075, Colombo, Sri Lanka, Email: email@example.com Innocent Balagazi Karhgomba, Researcher, Rwanda, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Professor Patrick Van Damme, U Ghent/FBW Department of Plant Production, Belgium, Email: Patrick.email@example.com Transcript Adeboye We just have to develop interest in discussing the topic because underutilised crops have been part of our culture for hundreds of thousands of years but you just find out that in recent times, people are no longer interested and when people are not interested the plants will go into extinction. Threat precedes extinction and when these plants go into extinction you lose your culture. So there is that necessity to maintain culture. You develop pride in what you have, not in what you import. Jaenicke I am often asked, ?Aren?t underutilised plants underutilised for a reason?? and I always say, ?Well, there might have been a reason in the past but maybe that reason has gone.? Many plants have been neglected in the past because processing was very difficult. Maybe they had a very hard seed coat or they had some bitter flavour but nowadays I think it is important to recognise that some of these obstacles have been overcome. So we should have another fresh look at the actual genetic diversity that is growing in our back gardens and in our farmers? home gardens, to see whether there is not much more that can be used. Karhgomba A lot of emphasis has been focused on exotic plant species at the expense of our own indigenous fruit trees. You find that there have been a lot of improvements and research done on mangoes and other oranges and things that are exotic to our native land but it is now important that we get back to our own. Adeboye The problem is about westernisation, especially in Africa. The colonial system brought into our system a kind of introduction of some crops from all over the world and so our people in that sense forgot about our own crops. Why? Because people who brought these crops promoted them and our people, because of lack of education, embraced the crops to the detriment of their own crops. Damme Man?s diet consists of only a few species and man needs a broad range of food because we need a broad range of nutrients, vitamins, all kinds of nutrients that in those restricted numbers of vegetables that we are eating now are not always there. Karhgomba Underutilised vegetables are very important. Looking at underutilised vegetables, nuts and fruits they are very nutritious, our science has proved. So various chemical tests have been done and they have been found to be very rich in chemicals such as calcium, iron and other things. So it is very, very important that we go back to the natives and utilise our species. Jaenicke I think climate change is affecting the cropping patterns of many of the crops that people use and therefore it is extremely important again to look at the diversity that is available and come back to some of the so called ?forgotten? and ?underutilised? plants, because many of them actually can withstand droughts or floods much better than the commercial crops. There are good examples from research, that also genes that are available in underutilised traditional plants can then be introduced through breeding efforts into some of the commodity crops. So we have a very, very valuable heritage that we should not lose and that is why it is important to look at the value of underutilised crops. Karhgomba You remember that in former times elder generations have been using these plants to survive from hunger, to fight against disasters and we need to revitalise them for our future generations. Adeboye Governments in Africa under the auspices of the African Union through the New Partnership for African Development should initiate a programme of networking among African research institutes, so that we add value to these underutilised crops, process foods from these underutilised crops and then extend this to the people, and I am sure people will embrace it. I will give you an example. Soya bean is not an African crop, it was introduced to Africa. People embraced it and they are now using it as a source of milk. So if we promote our own crop through extension and through our governments, we can then popularise these crops and make them more valuable. End of track.