Healthy indigenous crops to feed the world

Photo credit: Food Tank

Food Tank has compiled a list of indigenous fruits, vegetables, and grains from many regions that are nutritious, delicious, and contribute to sustainable livelihoods in rural communities across the globe.

34 Indigenous Crops Promoting Health and Feeding the World

Every day, plant species across the globe are disappearing. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reports that approximately 75 percent of the Earth’s plant genetic resources are now extinct, and another third of plant biodiversity is expected to disappear by 2050. Up to 100,000 plant varieties are currently endangered worldwide.

Unfortunately, most investments in agriculture are for crops such as wheat, rice, and maize, rather than for more nutritious foods or indigenous crops—and this focus has had devastating consequences. Global obesity rates have doubled over the last 30 years, increasing the risk of diet-related illnesses including diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease in industrialized and developing countries alike.

Many indigenous crops are environmentally sustainable, improve food security, help prevent malnutrition, and increase farmer incomes. Initiatives like the World Vegetable Center (AVRDC)’s Vegetable Genetic Resources System and Slow Food International’s Ark of Taste are working to catalog indigenous species of fruits and vegetables all over the world.

Food Tank has compiled a list of indigenous fruits, vegetables, and grains from many regions that are nutritious, delicious, and contribute to sustainable livelihoods in rural communities across the globe.

AFRICA

1. Fonio: This versatile and gluten-free species of millet from the savannahs of West Africa is nutritious, fast-growing, and suitable to dry conditions. Some ancient belief systems even claim the universe was created through a grain of fonio.

2. Baobab: This enormous African tree has fruits containing a dry pulp that is nutritious, flavorful, and useful as a thickening agent in food processing.

3. Moringa: Native to parts of Africa and South Asia, this versatile and fast-growing tree provides pods, leaves, and seeds that are packed with nutrients. Moringa is drought-resistant, grows well in sub-tropical regions, and even can be used to help purify water.

Read the full article: Food Tank

Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.