Following successful events in Tanzania (2008) and Malaysia (2011), the 3rd International Conference on Neglected and Underutilized Species (NUS): For a Food-Secure Africa took place in Accra, Ghana, from 25 to 27 September 2013. The conference, co-organized by Bioversity International, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Ghana and a range of international partners, brought together research and development experts, private sector actors, policy makers and others interested in helping poor farmers to use so-called minor crops to improve their livelihoods and well being.
Only the formal sector regards these crops as neglected and underutilized; for smallholder farmers around the world, they are often the bedrock of production, being well-suited to marginal environments and adaptable to changing conditions. They thus have an important part to play in boosting the resilience of fragile farming systems and thereby sustainably improving livelihoods. However, all stakeholders still have much to learn from one another.
The Conference promoted knowledge sharing and debate under three umbrella themes: Resilience of agricultural and livelihood systems; Upgrading value chains of neglected and underutilized species; Creating an enabling environment.
This sub-theme will address the role of neglected and underutilized species in resilient food production systems in Africa. Contributions will review practices and lessons learnt on how NUS are deployed by farmers to reduce biotic and abiotic risks, including adapting to climate change. Analyses of challenges, needs and opportunities for scaling up and mainstreaming these efforts for wider impact will also be included. b) NUS for nutrition and health The nutritional and health value of local crops. Many NUS species are known to be of very high nutritional value and to play a strategic role in sustainable food systems. Contributions to this theme will attempt to quantify such benefits.
Successful income generation from NUS relies on effective value-addition strategies that take a systems perspective and involve multiple stakeholders. Papers in this theme will present experience and lessons learned related to production, processing and marketing of NUS and how these efforts have benefited, or can benefit, smallholder farmers in particular. Aspects to be considered include seed systems, storage, value addition and marketing. The role of three levels of value chain actors - operators, service providers, and regulating and policy institutions - will be explored.
For the enhanced utilization of NUS species, policy interventions are crucial. Papers under the sub-theme will present policy issues that may promote or hinder enhanced use of NUS in Africa and share experience of how these have been addressed. Contributions will cover both national and international policy and provide recommendations for actions that support the promotion of NUS in the various areas covered in the conference including crop production, nutrition, marketing, education and climate change.
Capacity development in higher education, research and development (R&D) is critical for innovation. This sub-theme will explore how educational programmes and institutions involved in building capacity of researchers and extension workers can be strengthened for effective R&D and better use of NUS in Africa.
This sub-theme will address the latest developments in the area of cooperation for NUS in Africa. The objective is to review existing efforts at both national and international levels to promote synergy and avoid unnecessary duplication of work. Contributions detailing successful experience from other regions will be also presented along with reflections on opportunities for North-South and South-South cooperation in NUS research.