Enhancing the Contribution of Neglected and Underutilized Species to Food Security and to Incomes of the Rural Poor (2001-2004)

Empowering the rural poor by strengthening their identity, income opportunities and nutritional security through the improved use and marketing of neglected and underutilized species (2007-2010)

Holistic Value Chain Approach

The first two phases of the IFAD NUS project aimed to enhance the sustainable conservation and use of neglected and underutilized species in Latin America, South Asia and Western Asia through a holistic value chain approach, which was developed through the project in building on past experiences at Bioversity International. Project activities sought to improve sustainability of production and income generation from target crops, as well as to secure nutrition benefits for local communities to achieve livelihood and conservation outcomes.

The targeted crop species belonged to three priority groups that are recognized to play a strategic role in strengthening nutritional security and income generation of the rural poor, the primary beneficiary of the project's efforts. Activities were carried out through a fully participatory bottom-up approach and were directed towards eight priority areas that covered the spectrum of sustainable use: provision of germplasm to farmers, selection of best genotypes, processing, value adding, market analyses, production-to-use chain improvement, policy, and public awareness. Efforts were development-oriented and executed using a gender sensitive agenda.

Target Crops and Locations

LocationTarget CropsSpeciesPartners
Latin AmericaAndean GrainsQuinoa aka quinua (Chenopodium quinoa); cañihua aka cañahua, kañahua, kañihua (Chenopodium pallidicaule); amaranth aka amaranto, kiwicha, coime, millmi (Amaranthus caudatus); lupin, aka chocho, tarwi (Lupinus mutabilis)PROINPA (Bolivia), INIAP (Ecuador), CIRNMA (Peru)
South AsiaMinor MilletsFinger millet (Eleusine coracana); Italian millet (Setaria italica); Little millet (Panicum miliare)MSSRF (India), NARC, and LI-BIRD (Nepal)
Western AsiaMedicinal and aromatic plantsArgel (Solenostemma arghel); Caper (Capparis spp.); Oregano (Origanum syriacum); Mint (Mentha piperita); Liquorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra); Aloe (Aloe spp.); Coriander (Coriandrum sativum); Cumin (Cuminum cyminum); Henna (Lawsonia inermis)DRC (Egypt) AREA (Yemen) 


  • Increase the contributions of neglected and underutilized species to improved livelihoods through enhanced capacities of stakeholders in value-adding technologies and best practices for the promotion of local biodiversity, together with more effective marketing of target species and products
  • Identify the contribution that key species can make to dietary diversity and to improved nutrition, particularly in children and expectant women.
  • Strengthen the contribution of neglected and underutilized species to sustainable agricultural production through their integration into an increased range of production systems, ensuring their improved use and diversity maintenance in these systems
  • Develop methodologies and approaches for the management of tourism activities by local communities with a focus on safeguarding their own cultural identity and their crop genetic resource assets
  • Support the development of multi-sectorial enabling policies at national and international levels, including the provision of relevant data to policy makers, and to strengthen collaboration among institutions working on neglected and underutilized species.