FAO holds consultation on underutilized crops species


In observance of the International Year of Pulses, Food and Agriculture Organization organized a Expert Consultation on Scoping, Prioritizing and Mapping of Neglected and Underutilized Crop Species in Asia on 3-5 December 2016.

 

Invited participants were from the University of Western Australia (UWA), International Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), Bioversity International, the M S Swaminathan Research Foundation – Leveraging Agriculture for Nutrition in South Asia (MSSRF-LANSA), Mahidol University, the Chinese Academy of Tropical Agricultural Sciences – Tropical Crops Genetic Resources Institute (CATAS-TCGRI), the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), Crops for the Future (CFF), the International Tropical Fruits Network (TFNet), and The Akshaya Patra Foundation, India.

 

The Consultation aimed to conduct an nterdisciplinary priority-setting exercise on Neglected and Underutilized Crop Species (NUS) for countries, aiming at identifying promising crops that are nutrition-dense, climate resilient, economically sustainable, locally available and culturally acceptable, and provide strategic advice to decision-makers. It was convened to take forward the recommendations of the Rome Declaration on Nutrition from the Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) in 2014, in order to lay a concrete foundation for food-based approaches at country level that would help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

 

TFNet CEO Dr. Desa Hassim presented on “What polices/incentives are required along the value chain?”. His presentation discussed why crops remain underutilized, the agricultural commodity value chain, and policy gaps and recommendations.

 

The consultation concluded with the following recommendations:

1. Urgent call for decision-makers to raise awareness of the nutrition-sensitive and climate-resilient benefits of NUS to address hunger, malnutrition and climate change.
2. Recognize, identify and promote the complementarities of NUS with existing staple crops for nutrition enhancement, climate change resilience and diversification of cropping systems, and relabel NUS as “Future Smart Food (FSF)” to popularize these species.
3. Establish a National Coordinating Committee on FSF involving concerned ministries and appoint a Strategic Coordinator at the inter-ministerial level.
4. Create an enabling environment by strengthening national institutional support for mainstreaming FSF into national policies and programmes, by means of appropriate incentives, procurement of FSF for food programmes (e.g. mid-day
meal/school meal scheme) to enhance national consumption, local production and facilitate marketing.
5. Establish nationally coordinated research for development programmes targeting FSF with high potential, and expand coverage of national agriculture statistics and national food composition data on FSF for evidence-based decision making.
6. Document and validate best-bet FSF case studies, compile indigenous knowledge related to FSF, undertake clinical and field studies to demonstrate the health benefits and climate resilience of FSF and assemble quantitative data for public
dissemination.
7. Enhance public awareness of the importance of FSF by developing nutrition and climate change education materials and curricula on the importance of FSF for consumers, traders, producers, health professionals, researchers, teachers (e.g.
school curricula), farmers, women and youth.
8. Identify key entry points in the value chain and encourage value chain development for specific NUS, including innovative and targeted interventions for promotion (e.g. ready-to-use food products) and increased funds for research,
development and extension capacities on FSF production and processing technologies.
9. Strengthen multidisciplinary and multi-sectoral collaboration through existing coordination mechanisms and build partnerships at national and regional levels, including academia, civil society and the private sector, to enhance
research and consumption and to attract the private sector to boost production, processing, value addition, product development, and marketing of FSF.
10. Establish a regionally coordinated network on FSF to facilitate exchanging information, policy, technologies and genetic resources as well as FSF promotion in target countries.

 

For more information, visit FAO’s website here: http://www.fao.org/asiapacific/events/detail-events/en/c/1391/




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