RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT OF UNDERUTILIZED PLANT SPECIES: THE ROLE OF VEGETABLES IN ASSURING FOOD AND NUTRITIONAL SECURITY
Climate change and population growth in many developing countries impede progress toward achieving food and nutritional security. Production of an expanded range of food crops can reduce risk and enhance food security. Diversified diets, based on a range of crop species, are essential for nutritional security. Vegetables are an excellent source of vitamins and micronutrients; increasing vegetable consumption can help alleviate malnutrition from imbalanced diets wherever it occurs, in developing countries as well as in developed countries. Vegetables are high value cash crops that generate employment and income, and contribute to gender equity and better livelihoods. Many vegetables indigenous vegetables in particular have high levels of micronutrients and could significantly contribute to nutritional security if eaten as part of the daily diet. Many indigenous vegetables adapt easily to degraded soils and to drought-prone, flooded, or saline land, and can be more resilient to extreme climatic events. Despite the importance of indigenous vegetables in combating malnutrition and poverty, and despite the wealth of traditional knowledge about these species, many are still poorly studied and understood by the scientific community. AVRDC The World Vegetable Center conserves a highly diverse collection of indigenous vegetables, and is engaged in multiplying selected lines of a wide range of crops while conserving their genetic resource base. These indigenous vegetables (e.g., African nightshade, Asian and African eggplant, drumstick tree, bitter gourd, water spinach, amaranth, Chinese kale, edible rape, roselle, Malabar spinach, slippery cabbage, winged bean, and many gourd species) are assessed for agronomic, production, postharvest and nutritional characteristics. The best species and lines are promoted, production guidelines are prepared, and food preparation and nutritional guidance is made available to ensure they are adopted and contribute to food and nutritional security.
Hughes, J.D.A. and Ebert, A.W. (2013). RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT OF UNDERUTILIZED PLANT SPECIES: THE ROLE OF VEGETABLES IN ASSURING FOOD AND NUTRITIONAL SECURITY. Acta Hortic. 979, 79-92
indigenous vegetables, diversified diets, malnutrition, micronutrient sources