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Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2015 May 26;12(6):5685-711. doi: 10.3390/ijerph120605685.

The Potential Role of Neglected and Underutilised Crop Species as Future Crops under Water Scarce Conditions in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Author information

1
International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics, P.O. Box 776, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. pchivenge@gmail.com.
2
School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, P. Bag X01, Scottsville 3209, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. pchivenge@gmail.com.
3
School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, P. Bag X01, Scottsville 3209, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. mabhaudhi@ukzn.ac.za.
4
School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, P. Bag X01, Scottsville 3209, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. modiAT@ukzn.ac.za.
5
School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, P. Bag X01, Scottsville 3209, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. mafongoya@ukzn.ac.za.

Abstract

Modern agricultural systems that promote cultivation of a very limited number of crop species have relegated indigenous crops to the status of neglected and underutilised crop species (NUCS). The complex interactions of water scarcity associated with climate change and variability in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), and population pressure require innovative strategies to address food insecurity and undernourishment. Current research efforts have identified NUCS as having potential to reduce food and nutrition insecurity, particularly for resource poor households in SSA. This is because of their adaptability to low input agricultural systems and nutritional composition. However, what is required to promote NUCS is scientific research including agronomy, breeding, post-harvest handling and value addition, and linking farmers to markets. Among the essential knowledge base is reliable information about water utilisation by NUCS with potential for commercialisation. This commentary identifies and characterises NUCS with agronomic potential in SSA, especially in the semi-arid areas taking into consideration inter alia: (i) what can grow under water-scarce conditions, (ii) water requirements, and (iii) water productivity. Several representative leafy vegetables, tuber crops, cereal crops and grain legumes were identified as fitting the NUCS category. Agro-biodiversity remains essential for sustainable agriculture.

KEYWORDS:

biodiversity; climate change; food and nutrition security; indigenous knowledge; resilience; semi-arid tropics; sustainability

PMID:
26016431
PMCID:
PMC4483666
DOI:
10.3390/ijerph120605685
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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