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Planta

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Orphan crops: their importance and the urgency of improvement

  • Zerihun TadeleEmail author
Review
  • 26 Downloads
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Orphan Crops

Abstract

Main conclusion

Due to significant contributions of orphan crops in the economy of the developing world, scientific studies need to be promoted on these little researched but vital crops of smallholder farmers and consumers.

Abstract

Food security is the main challenge in the developing world, particularly in the least developed countries. Orphan crops play a vital role in the food security and livelihood of resource-poor farmers and consumers in these countries. Like major crops, there are members of all food types—cereals, legumes, vegetables and root and tuber crops, that are considered to be orphan crops. Despite their huge importance for present and future agriculture, orphan crops have generally received little attention by the global scientific community. Due to this, they produce inferior yields in terms of both quantity and quality. The major bottlenecks affecting the productivity of these crops are little or no selection of improved genetic traits, extreme environmental conditions and unfavorable policy. However, some orphan crops have recently received the attention of the global and national scientific community where advanced research and development initiatives have been launched. These initiatives which implement a variety of genetic and genomic tools targeted major constraints affecting productivity and/or nutritional quality of orphan crops. In this paper, some of these initiatives are briefly described. Here, I provide key suggestions to relevant stakeholders regarding improvement of orphan crops. Concerted efforts are urgently needed to advance the research and development of both the major and orphan crops so that food security will be achieved and ultimately the livelihood of the population will be improved.

Keywords

Crops for the future Disadvantaged crops Food security Minor crops Orphan crops Understudied crops Underutilized crops 

Abbreviations

AOCC

African Orphan Crops Consortium

AVRDC

World Vegetable Center

BBSRC

Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council

BGI

Beijing Genomics Institute

BMGF

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

CCRP

Collaborative Crop Research Program, McKnight Foundation

CEPLAS

Cluster of Excellence in Plant Science

CFF

Crops for Future

CGIAR

Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research

CIAT

International Center for Tropical Agriculture

CIMMYT

International Maize and Improvement Center

CIP

International Potato Center

CRISPR/Cas9

Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats/CRISPR-associated 9

ECA

Economic Commission for Africa

FAO

Food and Agriculture Organization

GBS

Genotyping by sequencing

GWAS

Genome wide association study

ICARDA

International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas

ICRAF

World Agroforestry Centre

ICRISAT

International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics

IFAD

International Fund for Agricultural Development

IITA

International Institute of Tropical Agriculture

LDC

Least Developed Countries

NEPAD

New Partnership for Africa’s Development

NRC

National Research Council of the USA

ODAP

β-N-Oxalyl-L-α, β-diaminopropanoic acid

PPP

Public–private partnership

SASSA

Sustainable Agriculture for Sub-Saharan Africa

SFSA

Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture

TILLING

Targeting induced local lesions in genomes

Notes

Acknowledgements

The Research in my lab is financially supported by the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture and University of Bern.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

I declare that there is no financial interest or conflict of interest.

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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Plant SciencesUniversity of BernBernSwitzerland

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