Neglected and Underutilized Species, Phase III



Although more than 3,000 plant species have been identified as edible, only 10 cereals, legumes and oilseeds cover 80% of the world's cropland. Rice, wheat and maize account for two-thirds of the world's arable lands. About 90% of our plant-based calories come from only 30 crops. Consequently, 60% of the world's population is malnourished, either due to lack of enough calories or due to too much of the wrong kind of calories. In light of changing climate, over reliance on a handful of crops puts our food security at further risk.

It is important to broaden research on neglected and underutilized species (NUS), so called from the perspective of mainstream agricultural research. To rural farmers, these crops remain valuable. Adapted to niches and marginal areas and with rich indigenous knowledge, these crops are important for local consumption and production systems. However, to continue its usefulness to a rapidly modernizing farming system, there is an urgent need to i) increase policy, research and development work on NUS, ii) improve germplasm, iii) ensure conservation, and iv) strengthen its seed supply.

With this in mind, Bioversity International, in partnership with LI-BIRD in Nepal, the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation in India, and the PROINPA Foundation in Bolivia is implementing the programme on “Reinforcing the resilience of poor rural communities in the face of food insecurity, poverty and climate change through on-farm conservation of local agrobiodiversity.”  The programme is funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). In Nepal, the programme is being implemented in four districts of Bara, Dolakha, Jumla and Kaski.

The programme aims "to facilitate more effective and sustainable use, management and conservation of local agrobiodiversity by communities and stakeholders, particularly in the context of food security, nutrition, income generation potential and adaptation to climate change." The four objectives of the programme are:

  • Develop and test new methods and tools in close partnership with farmers and value chain actors aimed at enhancing their capacities to sustainably conserve traditional crops and associated knowledge at the farm level; 
  • Explore ways of integrating the monitoring of diversity on-farm, along with use-enhancement goals, through inter-disciplinary and multi-sector approaches;
  • Promote a more balanced complementary conservation agenda in national programmes, based on the need to combat genetic erosion and to meet the needs of agrobiodiversity users; and
  • Provide useful findings to guide further research related to climate change and its impact on species and varieties deployed in local production systems. 
Project Details
Countries: Nepal
Working districts: Bara, Dolakha, Kaski, Jumla
Project Duration: 2011 - 2015
Partners: Anamolbiu Private Limited, Bioversity International, Hill Crops Research Programme, M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation, National Agricultural Genetic Resources Centre, Proinpa Foundation
Funded by: Bioversity International, European Commission, International Fund for Agriculture Development
Contact Person: Sajal Sthapit