Forgotten food crops work wins Cozzarelli Prize

Award-winning research identifies ‘forgotten’ crops which could support future food systems in Africa.

A research team including scientists from SRUC has won a coveted National Academy of Sciences’ 2023 Cozzarelli Prize, alongside five other winners.

The SRUC scientists, together with researchers from the World Vegetable Center, Center for International Forestry Research-World Agroforestry (CIFOR-ICRAF), University of Abomey-Calavi and National Taiwan University, won the award for their work exploring the role forgotten food crops could play in supporting nutrition and climate resilience in sub-Saharan Africa.

The research, which won in the Applied Biological, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences category, underscores the importance of diversifying food production as the climate changes – and drawing on biodiversity resources to do so.

The team looked at how to diversify sub-Saharan Africa’s food systems away from a reliance on maize, rice, cassava and yams, to support more climate resilient and nutritious food systems in the future.

It identified 58 forgotten food crops that provide complementary micronutrient contents suitable for integration into staple cropping systems, under current and projected climatic conditions.

Ian Dawson, one of the authors of the study who works for SRUC and CIFOR-ICRAF, said: “We looked at how Africa’s traditional or ‘forgotten’ food crops could diversify the country’s food systems by using a combination of climate niche modelling and nutritional data.

“It’s heartening to see this research being recognised and celebrated. Although our study focused on Africa, the same methods could be used to explore opportunities for crop diversification in Europe and elsewhere as the climate changes. So that is something to think about in – and for – the future.”

The Cozzarelli Prize honours the former Editor-in-Chief of PNAS, Nicholas R. Cozzarelli, and each year “acknowledges papers which reflect scientific excellence and originality” in six different categories published in the journal.

The other categories cover Physical and Mathematical Sciences, Biological Sciences, Engineering and Applied Sciences, Biomedical Sciences and Behavioral and Social Sciences.

The winners will be recognised at an awards ceremony later this month, during the NAS Annual Meeting.

Posted by SRUC on 10/04/2024

Tags: Agriculture, Awards
Categories: Research