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FAO urges greater use of ‘neglected’ grains

3 commentsBy Caroline Scott-Thomas , 11-Dec-2012

The FAO has called for more diversified crop production
The FAO has called for more diversified crop production

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has urged greater use of neglected traditional grains, saying that there is global overreliance on just a handful of staple foods.

Speaking at the “Crops for the 21st Century” seminar in Córdoba, Spain this week, FAO director-general José Graziano da Silva said that most of the global population’s calories come from four crops: Wheat, maize, rice and potatoes – and our diets have become more homogenous with increased globalisation. This has led to the loss of many traditional foods, as well as less agricultural biodiversity.

“‘Neglected’ crops that are currently underutilized by farmers can play an important role addressing the food and agriculture challenges of the future and should be re-evaluated,” he said.

"…Currently there are about 870 million hungry people in the world, a world that produces enough food for everyone. Globalisation has created an abundance of food in some parts of the world, but has failed to end the chronic shortages that exist elsewhere. "

Graziano da Silva added that overuse of a small number of staples could also lead to poor nutrition, and highlighted relatively small-scale crops such as quinoa, which have potential to contribute to food security because of their high nutritional value, while also being adaptable to various growing conditions.

“Our dependence on a few crops has negative consequences for ecosystems, food diversity and our health. The food monotony increases the risk of micronutrient deficiency," he said.

The FAO estimates that about 7,000 different crops have been grown and consumed throughout human history, but more of these crops have begun to disappear.

“If we lose these unique and irreplaceable resources, it will be more difficult for us to adapt to climate change and ensure a healthy and diversified nutrition for all," Graziano da Silva said. “…We must not lose track of our agricultural and culinary roots, nor the lore and wisdom of our ancestors.  On the contrary, we must learn from them, to ensure that our future has even more diversity.”

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3 comments (Comments are now closed)

Orphaned tree crops of Western Ghats:

Jack Fruit has diversity and variety virtues
as a local food security adjunct. This traditional native tree crop with sumptuous
yield deserves attention

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Posted by Joseph Luckose
13 December 2012 | 08h58

"a world that produces enough food for everyone"

Yet 1b people are starving.
Hence the need for diversity (rice and potato and maize do not grow anywhere).
Hence no need for GMOs (GE corn crop yields are down this year).

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Posted by Fred
12 December 2012 | 11h20

FAO urges return of 'neglected' grains

Keep working on the return of edible chestnuts.

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Posted by Virginia L. Rinkel
12 December 2012 | 01h53

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