Biodiversity, food security, nutrition, health, economic development – all these topics are high on the agenda
of numerous organisations around the world and are the goals of global campaigns, initiatives, task forces and research
projects. And they all have one thing in common: they are all concerned with the products we gain from
agricultural cultivation, the business we create out of it, and the way we consume them.
Yet still today, food security is not yet a given, biodiversity is regressing, people in developing countries don’t
have access to sufficient nutrition, and populations in industrialised countries suffer from diseases caused by
excessive consumption of certain foods. And this is all interlinked. It has all been mentioned before. It’s not new. But we
need to think about it again.
There are an estimated 400,000 plant species on this planet. Over 20,000 species are edible. 150 species are
commercialised. But only 3 crops are used to meet 50% of the daily worldwide calorie demand: maize, wheat and
rice. 95% of our demand is met by only 30 species. During the 20th century, according to FAO, “75 percent of
plant genetic diversity has been lost as farmers worldwide have left their multiple local varieties and landraces for
genetically uniform, high-yielding varieties”.
What about the remaining species? They are basically neglected, underutilised, not commercially used or forgotten.
They are commonly called: ‘neglected and underutilised species’. We should not be satisfied with the existence of the above