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Sustainability 2017, 9(9), 1569;

Status of Underutilised Crops in South Africa: Opportunities for Developing Research Capacity

Crop Science, School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Private Bag X01, Scottsville, Pietermaritzburg 3209, South Africa
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 28 July 2017 / Revised: 30 August 2017 / Accepted: 31 August 2017 / Published: 6 September 2017
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Underutilised crops represent an important component of agro-biodiversity with potential to contribute to climate change adaptation, food security and sovereignty in poor rural areas. However, despite emerging research interest, they continue to occupy the peripheries of mainstream agriculture. There is a need to consolidate the gains made and propose a coherent strategy for translating underutilised crops into mainstream agriculture. The status of underutilised crops in South Africa (past, present and on-going research) was reviewed with a view to identifying existing gaps, opportunities and challenges for developing future research capacity. The review confirmed that several underutilised crops are drought tolerant, adapted to low levels of water use and thus suitable for cultivation in most marginal production areas typical of semi-arid and arid cropping systems. In addition, several are nutrient dense and could be used to improve dietary diversity among poor rural people. These characteristics make them ideal for inclusion in climate change adaptation and promotion of food sovereignty. There is need for a paradigm shift away from practices that have promoted a few major crops to an agro-ecology based land use classification system that recognises diversity and strengthens food networks. There is a need to identify those underutilised crops that show the greatest potential for success and can be fitted into semi-arid and arid cropping systems and prioritise them for future research, development and innovation. View Full-Text
Keywords: climate change; food and nutrition security; food sovereignty; sustainable; water scarcity climate change; food and nutrition security; food sovereignty; sustainable; water scarcity

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Mabhaudhi, T.; Chimonyo, V.G.P.; Modi, A.T. Status of Underutilised Crops in South Africa: Opportunities for Developing Research Capacity. Sustainability 2017, 9, 1569.

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