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Focus on… Neglected and underutilised species
Variety is said to be the spice of life and to make our lives more interesting. And yet, worldwide, a significant proportion of the global treasure chest of plant biodiversity is disappearing; FAO reports that approximately 75 per cent of the Earth’s plant genetic resources are already extinct. By 2050, another third of plant species is expected to disappear. These undervalued wild and cultivated species hold the keys to our future with genes that provide resilience to changing climatic conditions and greater nutritional characteristics than our key staples (maize, rice, wheat). And yet a greater research and development focus on neglected and underutilised species (NUS), also known as orphan crops, would help to sustain smallholder farmers and provide improved livelihoods, income and health for their families.