Cultivars that emerged during the Green Revolution focused on increasing yield, primarily of a few staple crops, that together with changes in farming systems (e.g. artificial fertilizer applications) did much to ensure adequate supply of affordable calories. This original strategy has, however, been at the expense of research into sustainable yield improvement and improved environmental resilience of orphan crops (e.g. teff, finger millet, yam, roots and tubers that are regionally important but not world traded and receive no attention from researchers). The current strategy regarding orphan crops focuses on genetic improvement to increase resilience to climate change and to improve productivity, under the assumption that increased diversity of crop species sown and harvested implies a greater diversity of consumption. However, this is not the case in rural or urban areas. The purpose of this project is to more effectively bridge current supply-side research on orphan crops with attitudes from consumers, to help have an impact on poverty, health, sustainable growth and food security in developing countries. This will be done by examining the entire supply chain and by multidisciplinary interaction of social, crop and food scientists who will seek to reformulate popular processed foods using orphan crop ingredients.
Extrusion and shape formulation during the manufacture of pasta (Source:Shutterstock)
Targeted orphan crops will be selected early on in the project based on existing demand and technical information as well as engagement and discussion with potential food processors. Research will be broken down into three interrelated work areas:(1) Supply chain analysis (including demand); (2) Options for development of new ingredients and foods based on orphan crops; and (3) Identification of solutions to production constraints of prioritised orphan crops.
Supply chain analysis (including demand analysis) will contribute:
The food science component will proceed in two stages:
The crop science component will:
This research focuses on developing sustainable efficient food value chains for orphan crops that provide products that target specific local demand from urban and rural areas. This is done through developing food products and ingredients based on them and studying the best way of operating their supply chains. Therefore, the direct beneficiaries from the research are those actors that either are already part of - or have the potential in the future to assemble - orphan crop value chains. The creation of these chains has multiplicative positive upstream and downstream effects.
The research results will support African populations' access to safe, sufficient and nutritious food products for a healthy life, whilst maintaining a healthy environment under an increasing demand for food due to growing populations, urbanisation and changing diets. It is expected that the project will contribute to support UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in ways indicated in the Case for Support.
Nairobi Workshop (June 2018)
Visit to ICRAF - Nairobi (25 March 2019)
Interviews to stakeholders (confidential)
Dr Cesar Revoredo-Giha
Land Economy, Environment and Rural Society Research Group,
SRUC, King’s Buildings, West Mains Road, Edinburgh EH10 4QU
Tel: 44-(0)131-535 4344