Diversifying Agriculture for Better Lives

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06 March 2010
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FAO and Bioversity International have developed two nutrition indicators for biodiversity useful to measure biodiversity-related food composition and food consumption of underutilized species (www.fao.org/infoods/biodiversity/index_en.stm).

More information can be found in the document “Specific definition of underutilized species for human consumption

While reporting upon these indicators, difficulties were encountered in defining underutilized foods. Therefore, FAO and Crops for the Future have developed specific criteria in order to establish the reference list for underutilized foods counting for the nutritional indicators for biodiversity:

Of the following criteria, the first one is compulsory, and several of the others should be met for a species to be included in this list:

  • The food was/is/could be used for human consumption.
  • May have great potential for contributing to food security and nutrition.
  • Mainly local and traditional crops/animals (including insects, amphibians and reptiles) whose distribution, biology, cultivation and uses are poorly documented.
  • Receive little attention from research, farmers, policy and decision makers, technology providers and consumers.
  • Have weak or no formal seed/animal germplasm supply systems.
  • Farmed, reared, gathered or caught in small scale.
  • The species must be grown/raised in the country/region where it is underutilized.
    Species that are imported do not count as underutilized in that region.

Furthermore, information on country/region of origin should be given.

These criteria, only intended to be used to report on the two nutrition indicators for biodiversity, should not replace the broad criteria that has been defined for categorizing underutilized species as such (www.underutilized-species.org/spotlight/what_are_underutilized_species.asp).

The integration of these specific criteria and the reference list of underutilized foods counting for food biodiversity will be uploaded on the websites of the Global Facilitation Unit for Underutilized Species at www.underutilized-species.org/species/about_species.asp and of the INFOODS at www.fao.org/infoods/biodiversity/index_en.stm.

We would appreciate receiving your comments by email (email hidden; JavaScript is required) within the 20th March 2010 on both the criteria and the list before publishing them on the websites.

We look forward and thank you!

2 Responses so far.

  1. [...] What makes a species “underutilized”? Your chance to tell FAO and Bioversity International [...]

    • paul says:

      What are nutritionally relevant underutilized species – setting the criteria to identify them and generating a list of them (that will never be comprehensive) – this is the question in this case

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