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17 September 2013 10 Comments
3rd International Conference on Neglected and Underutilized Species: For a Food-Secure Africa (NUS 2013)

3rd International Conference on Neglected and Underutilized Species: For a Food-Secure Africa (NUS 2013)

As part of the conference coverage for NUS 2013, New Agriculturist – a widely read and well – recognised online journal, will be helping to share your stories about how agricultural knowledge and innovation regarding neglected crops are helping to address major development challenges and make a real difference in the lives of the poor. In particular, the New Agriculturist is interest to feature case studies that show how the author’s work is helping to achieve developmental change in increasing environmental resilience with NUS, in enhancing food and nutrition security, or benefiting people’s lives and livelihoods through the upgrading of NUS value chains.

The conveners of the conference kindly invite participants who may be interested to collaborate and have their stories published to submit a short outline for articles that correspond with the following conference themes:

Theme 1: Resilience of agricultural and livelihood systems

  • Diversification for food security in sub-Saharan Africa
  • NUS for nutrition and health

Theme 2: Upgrading value chains of neglected and underutilized species

Interested contributors are advised to write directly to Olivia Frost at email hidden; JavaScript is required, and copy to email hidden; JavaScript is required by no later than 30th September 2013. Please visit the official website of the “3rd International Conference on Neglected and Underutilized Species: For a Food-Secure Africa (NUS 2013)” for more information and article submission guidelines.

20 February 2013 Add Comments

Together with a number of international and Spanish partners, CFF co-organised  the “International Seminar Crops for the XXI Century”, held last December in Cordoba, Spain. The seminar resulted in the Cordoba Declaration, which calls for more diversity in agricultural and food systems, principally through greater use of neglected and underutilised species (NUS). Specifically the declaration proposes action along these lines:

  • Farmers threshing quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa), near Puno, Peru.

    Farmers threshing quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa), near Puno, Peru.

    Improving education and awareness to ensure that the values of a much wider range of NUS are recognized by all society;

  • Increasing recognition and support for small scale and family farmers, women and men, in maintaining diversified and resilient agricultural systems;
  • Facilitating the conservation, access, availability, use and exchange of seeds by farmers;
  • Promoting formal and informal research and plant breeding to realize the full potential of NUS;
  • Improving access to markets and stimulating demand for a wider range of NUS, while ensuring that benefits are shared fairly.
05 September 2012 Add Comments

Who is working on agricultural biodiversity?

Quien esta trabajando en agrobiodiversidad?

Qui travaille sur la biodiversité agricole?

Quem trabalha na agro-biodiversidade?

Bioversity International invites you to participate in this survey.

Click on the links above or follow the link www.bioversityinternational.org/survey to learn more about it and participate.

Bioversity International uses agricultural biodiversity to improve people’s lives, and carries out global research to seek solutions for three key challenges: Sustainable Agriculture, Nutrition and Conservation.

25 November 2009 2 Comments

Cymbidium sp.Orchids are the most beautiful and preferred plants by florist and passionate home gardeners. The beautiful flowers have seduced the artists and poets for generations. Interestingly the word orchid is derived from the Greek word ‘orchis’ which means ‘testicles’ probably referring to the bulbous roots. The family of orchids is one of the largest and most diverse in the flowering plant kingdom. Botanist estimate that the orchid family comprise of 25,000-30,000 species with wide range of size, colour and shape. These beautiful plants grow on different substrates. Some derive their nutrition by growing on trees (epiphytes), several other grow on rocks (lithophytes) and a large number grow in soil. Different folklores are associated with orchids. In certain parts of north east India, orchids are a symbol of love and fertility. During certain festivals garlands are made of beautiful flowers of certain orchids and used in religious ceremonies.

The Himalayan region is a hotspot for a variety of orchids. Bhutan is no exception. The rich traditional knowledge of Bhutan which has been perpetuated for centuries by the indigenous and local communities is a living testimony of understanding and using the rich biodiversity of the region. A variety of wild plants are used as food, fibre and medicine for generations. The use of the biodiversity in food has sustained the indigenous people who live in remote mountains, wherein reaching such places would take a couple of days of walk through the thick virgin forest.

The local population in Bhutan knew the importance of orchids in the ecosystem and have developed mechanisms for their sustainable harvest. Due to the beautiful flowers they attract lot of insects, birds and bats. More than eighty percent of the pollination of orchids is by insects. Farmers even now cultivate orchids like Cymbidium sp. in crop fields on bunds and around farm houses. They not only serve as food but also provide lot of environmental services like, facilitating pollination, prevention of soil erosion, pest management in crop husbandry by the birds and predatory insects.

Orchids are used as food in different parts of the world and vanilla is a classic example which has been used as a spice and flavouring agent for centuries. The edible parts are leaves, tubers and bulbs. In Bhutan amongst the many available orchids Cymbidium sp. is a delicacy. In local language it is called as ‘olachotho’ and is available in the local market during the months of August to October. The inflorescence or the flowers are the edible part. The psuedobulbs are also eaten like potatoes with salt but are not available in the market as it is not very popular. But in the villages people do consume the bulbs.

Orchid cuisine in Bhutan

Orchids cultivated on the field bundThe most common method of cooking Cymbidium sp or ‘olachotho’ in Bhutan is with cheese. The flowers (unopened or opened) are separated from the inflorescence and washed with water. The cleaned flowers are bolied in water for 10 minutes till it gets slightly soft. The local cheese is added in required quantities along with salt and chillies and simmered for 5 minutes. The dish is ready and goes very well with local brown rice. Cheese in an important ingredient in the Bhutanese cuisine and they add cheese very liberally! It has a slight bitter taste which is relished by the local population.

As a connoisseur of food, I have tried cooking this orchid in a different way to ward off the bitterness and it tastes good. The method is quite simple. Separate the flowers from the inflorescence clean them and keep in a bowl. In a pan heat 2 table spoons of edible oil, add half teaspoon of mustard seeds and allow them to splutter. Chopped onions, chillies garlic and tomatoes are added (to taste) to the oil and cooked till the onions and garlic turn golden brown. To this mixture half teaspoon of turmeric powder is added and mixed well. The orchid flowers are now put into the spicy mixture and cooked for 10-15 minutes. Add salt in required quantities according to the taste. It has to be served hot and goes well with rice or bread. The bitterness disappears in this method and tastes yummy.

There are lot of folklores about the medicinal properties of orchids. Some believe that it has aphrodisiac properties while others believe that it can be used as an oral contraceptive. There is a need for more scientific research to establish these facts and rediscover the traditional wisdom for the welfare of the humanity.

A.Thimmaiah

Tim - crop planning trainingDr. A. Thimmaiah works with SNV Netherlands Development Organization as Specialist in Organic Agriculture and advises, National Organic Program (NoP) of Ministry of Agriculture, Royal Government of Bhutan.

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05 October 2009 Add Comments

Gelio2Las tierras del oriente de Guatemala tienen sed y sus habitantes tienen hambre. La sequia termino con la cosecha, la falta de visión y de políticas agrícolas a largo plazo no ayudo, pero no muy lejos de oriente, en el departamento del Petén, nace la esperanza y su nombre es Ramón.

El Ramón es un árbol que crece en el Petén. Es de rápido crecimiento, su follaje es excelente alimento para le ganado y de sus nueces sale una harina altamente nutritiva. Gelio Cuellar, agronomo petenero, cree fervientemente en sus bondades y cree que podrían ser aplicadas en todo el país, porque al Ramón le gusta toda Guatemala. Gelio cree que el Ramón es la respuesta, no solo a la hambruna, sino a la deforestación y el subdesarrollo económico.

Se puede mirar el video aquí: http://www.entremosleaguate.net/