Agro Business

See the list of great food we have forgotten in Africa

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has recently introduced a groundbreaking Compendium of overlooked food crops in Africa. This comprehensive collection, the first of its kind, consists of 100 African forgotten food crops.

These crops, also known as neglected, underutilized, or orphan crops, offer numerous advantages, including diversification of nutrition and diet, while promoting resilient and climate-smart agriculture. However, they are currently at risk of being overshadowed by popular staples like maize, rice, and wheat, which dominate African diets.

The compendium provides detailed information on each crop, including its botanical classification, suitability for different agroecological conditions, agronomic requirements, traditional and medicinal uses, potential for value addition, and nutritional content. Some of the crops featured in the compendium include African locust beans, African nightshade, baobab, Bambara nut, bush mango, cassava, fonio, marula, moringa, teff, and tigernut.

Developed by the Food and Agriculture Organization’s Regional Office for Africa in collaboration with the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa, this Compendium directly aligns with the objectives of the UN Food Systems Summit and the Call for Collective Action in the Global Manifesto on Forgotten Foods.

By embracing both agricultural heritage and innovation, Africa’s agrifood systems can undergo a transformative change. By documenting and highlighting these forgotten or underutilized crops, we pay tribute to traditional knowledge and unlock the potential for improved nutrition, sustainable agriculture, and resilience in the face of the climate crisis.

In a joint foreword, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Africa, Abebe Haile-Gabriel, and FARA Executive Director, Aggrey Agumya, emphasize the importance of integrating forgotten foods into African agrifood systems.

Forgotten foods have not reached their full potential due to years of neglect or lack of attention from researchers and development practitioners. Those interested in studying these commodities often struggle to secure funding, as they are not part of the major food commodities supported worldwide. These overlooked foods are referred to as forgotten because they have been neglected by research funders, researchers, and development practitioners.

Intended as a reference guide to expand the understanding of individuals involved in various aspects of forgotten foods, the compendium targets researchers, nutritionists, policymakers, development practitioners, and anyone interested in food and agriculture in Africa.

The Compendium serves as a companion to the latest publication Integrating Africa’s forgotten foods for better nutrition which explains the methodologies and analysis used to compile the Compendium.

The publication is part of FAO’s activities and operations across Africa aimed at better production, better nutrition, a better environment plus a better life under the FAO Strategic Framework 2022-31. The Compendium of forgotten foods in Africa can be downloaded from FAO’s website

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