Capacity building underpins all our work on neglected and underutilized species and is key in realizing the livelihood, nutrition and sustainability benefits of these crops. We work to develop a supportive policy environment for research and development of these species and to build skills and knowledge of farmers and researchers to achieve a strong and long lasting impact.
Neglected and underutilized species are typically not well represented in research agendas, policies, and training programs. In many cases development policies even discourage cultivation of neglected and underutilized species and promote their replacement with improved varieties of dominant staples. We are working to define and promote more supportive policies for the research, development and conservation of neglected and underutilized species.
Collaboration across disciplines and with multiple stakeholders, including farmers and the private sector, is required for effective research and development of neglected and underutilized species. Gender-responsive methods in particular are critical because these crops are often managed by women. Regrettably, these topics, as well as information on minor and traditional crops, are generally not well covered in education programs, which limits research capacity in this field. In response to this gap, we have been running projects to build the skills and knowledge among researchers of neglected and underutilized species to strengthen their capacity for sound and effective research. We also contribute to network building for researchers of neglected and underutilized species through conferences and platforms (such as this) to enhance information exchange in this emerging field.
In addition to training researchers, our work aims to build the capacities of farmers in areas related to value chain development and on-farm conservation of neglected and underutilized species. Farmer training is carried out through farmer field days, exposure and exchange visits, demonstration plots, and workshops. Topics covered include all aspects related to production and marketing of neglected and underutilized species, their nutritional and environmental benefits, and documentation and monitoring.
Awareness building at the community level is an important action to overcome the stigma neglected and underutilized species often carry as “food of the poor” that represents an important constraint to their greater cultivation and use. We raise awareness for the value and importance of diversity from the community scale to the global scale through diversity fairs, training, scientific publications, and other forms of public outreach