Forgotten Foods: Untapped potential for sustainable food systems
Four food crops - wheat, maize, rice and soybean - provide two-thirds of the world’s food supply.
Forgotten crops—or Neglected and Underutilized Species (NUS)—and the foods derived from them, have immense untapped potential within sustainable food systems. They cultivation is based on ancestral knowledge which has not been placed at the center in formal research They provide:
- Healthy, nutritious foods for local communities
- Resilience to changing weather, climate change, pests, diseases
- Rich diversity in agro-ecosystems and landscapes
- Protection of farmers’ livelihoods and cultural traditions
The Forgotten Voices of Farmers
For centuries, smallholder farmers have selected, conserved, exchanges and improved these crops, supported by their own traditional knowledge systems and experimentation processes.Yet most of these crop species remain neglected, under-resourced and underutilized in the global food system.
Research on these crops has received very little finance compared to staple crops, despite their greater sustainability.
Partners in GFAR recognize that forgotten crops/foods can be part of a sustainable model for agricultural production, but only if
- Farmers themselves drive the transformation
- Farmers are recognized as the main agents of change
- Farming communities are recognized custodians of knowledge and equal partners in developing innovative practices and products
- Farmers derive fair returns to guarantee their long-term success and livelihoods.
GFAR Collective Action on Forgotten Foods
This Collective Action aims to:
- capture shared values, operational principles and concrete strategies to empower smallholder farmers to demonstrate the vast potential of their crops
- give farmers voice and agency concerning their particular challenges and needs
- transform research and innovation systems in favor of forgotten foods/crops and of farmers’ traditional knowledge systems and governance
Global Manifesto on Forgotten Foods
The Manifesto on Forgotten Foods is the result of a broad and intensive consultation process carried out in Africa, Asia-Pacific, Europe and the Middle East . It was facilitated by GFAR as part of its Collective Actions to Empower Farmers at the Center of Innovation; led by a coalition of Regional Research Organizations and their partners, in particular, AARINENA, APAARI, FARA; and supported by CFF, and the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT. In this process, thousands of actors from many countries took part in research activities, data analysis, presentations and discussions, deliberations and debates, and in the drafting of three regional manifestos on forgotten foods (see Annex 2 for the numbers of participants and Annex 3 for the names of organizations involved); eventually resulting in this concise and synthetic document based on consensus. Actors included members of farmer organizations, civil society and community-based organizations, women and youth organizations, research, extension and development organizations, private sector entities, and government agencies. The scale and scope of this initiative are unprecedented and represent a big step forward on the global forgotten foods agenda.