Underutilised Crops

DIVERSIFOOD Innovation Factsheet #4

DIVERSIFOOD consortium
European Union’s H2020 Programme under grant agreement no 633571
May 2017
All rights reserved.
Academic research

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Resource explained: 

This is a factsheet that gives some background to the international DIVERSIFOOD project (the acronym for ‘Embedding crop diversity and networking for local high quality food systems’). It touches on the impact of lack of diversity in farming and food systems, describes what constitutes ‘underutilised crops’, and outlines three major challenges outlined by the project consortium.

Findings & recommendations: 
  • An ‘underutilised crop’ is described as being a plant genetic resource with limited current use but with potential to diversify and improve cropping systems and supply chains in a given context.
  • The three challenges that have been identified by the project consortium are:
    • Introducing outsider species i.e. growing quinoa in Europe or chickpeas in the UK;
    • reviving old forgotten species (why have they been forgotten?);
    • and reviving neglected germplasms of common crops (i.e. forgotten open pollinated varieties that would broaden the genetic diversity of common crops).
  • One of the project aims is to “evaluate the genetic resources of a dozen underutilized and forgotten plant species for organic and low-input agriculture or marginal/specific conditions. Various combinations of underutilized legumes associated with several cereals will be tested.” Find out more about DIVERSIFOOD here.

(Header image: Chickpeas. Photo credit: Organic Research Centre)