UNDERUTILIZED CEREALS, PULSES AND VEGETABLES IN TROPICAL AFRICA AND THEIR THREATS: CONCLUSIONS FROM PROTA 1 AND 2

J.S. Siemonsma, R.H.M.J. Lemmens
Increased utilization of plant resources may have a serious impact on the plants’ genetic diversity. The promotion of poorly known but promising species should take into account their conservation status. The PROTA (Plant Resources of Tropical Africa) programme makes such exercises possible for tropical Africa because it generates detailed information on all primary-use species of a commodity group. It makes review articles based on all literature that deal with all relevant aspects (core product). This is followed by stakeholder consultations resulting in conclusions and recommendations with respect to promising species and technologies, development opportunities, research gaps, thesis subjects, conservation needs and policy measures (special product). A number of pilot projects on promising species and technologies are subsequently identified and implemented in cooperation with local development organisations. The knowledge synthesis and consultation process has been completed for two important groups of food plants, the PROTA 1: Cereals and pulses (2006) and the PROTA 2: Vegetables (2004). Out of the 80 primary-use cereals and pulses, approximately 15 have been identified as poorly-known but promising crops for tropical Africa which are either already being cultivated on a small and/or local scale and to be considered for promotion, or harvested from the wild and are candidates for domestication. Many of these species are liable to genetic erosion because they have a limited area of distribution, are uncommon, or are unsustainably harvested. Germplasm collection and characterisation are recommended. Out of the 350 primary-use vegetables, about 90 qualify as species that deserve more attention from extension and research. Some of these are in need of immediate protection (e.g., Acanthophoenix and other palm species popular for palm-heart in Madagascar, Réunion, and Mauritius, and Acanthosicyos horridus, which has a limited area of distribution in the Namib Desert). For many other species, germplasm collection is highly recommended, either from wild populations or from African landraces.
Siemonsma, J.S. and Lemmens, R.H.M.J. (2009). UNDERUTILIZED CEREALS, PULSES AND VEGETABLES IN TROPICAL AFRICA AND THEIR THREATS: CONCLUSIONS FROM PROTA 1 AND 2. Acta Hortic. 806, 629-636
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2009.806.78
https://doi.org/10.17660/ActaHortic.2009.806.78
conservation status, genetic erosion, tropical Africa, domestication, PROTA
English

Acta Horticulturae