STRATEGIC APPROACHES FOR RESEARCH AND PROMOTION OF UNDERUTILIZED VEGETABLE CROPS FOR FOOD SECURITY IN CENTRAL ASIA AND THE CAUCASUS

R. Mavlyanova
A promising option to address food and nutritional security in Central Asia and the Caucasus, in light of increasing population and climate change, is the use of indigenous or traditional crops. More than 30 vegetable species are grown in the region at present; however, only a few vegetables – tomato, watermelon, cabbage, and onions – account for 60% of the overall production. Vegetable supply is highly seasonal, with only 15% of the total production available from November to March. Many segments of the region’s population are unaware of the health benefits of vegetable consumption and lack information regarding the potential of underutilized species, which are well-adapted, hardy, and nutritious. The lack of quality seed and knowledge on appropriate growing technologies in combination with poor storage facilities, weak market demand and poor infrastructure for processing contribute to the weak interest in underutilized crops. To expand the use of indigenous vegetables researchers need to explore cross-cutting issues, including differences in regional socioeconomic status, cooking and consumption traditions, agroecological conditions, and available plant diversity. This research must be accompanied by strategies to develop underutilized crops and emphasize their role in improving regional food security. More attention and corresponding fund allocation should be given in state programs to the entire indigenous vegetable value chain, including: collection and conservation of plants ex situ and in situ; germplasm evaluation and new cultivar development; seed production improvement; production, postharvest and processing technology development; marketing; and capacity building. Measures are needed for in-situ conservation of wild alliums, root and leafy green crops, and to educate people in local communities to grow and multiply seeds of valuable wild species and local varieties at home. Raising public awareness about the nutritional value of indigenous vegetables through a variety of media will contribute to increase knowledge of farmers and consumers, encourage more farmers to produce underutilized crops, and promote their consumption.
Mavlyanova, R. (2013). STRATEGIC APPROACHES FOR RESEARCH AND PROMOTION OF UNDERUTILIZED VEGETABLE CROPS FOR FOOD SECURITY IN CENTRAL ASIA AND THE CAUCASUS. Acta Hortic. 979, 541-547
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2013.979.58
https://doi.org/10.17660/ActaHortic.2013.979.58
vegetable production, diversity, consumption, agricultural policy
English

Acta Horticulturae