2. Lesser-known plants of potential use in agriculture and forestry.
Science, 232, 1986, pp. 1379-1384
The purpose of this article is to give a sense of the remarkable plants that still have not been exploited, as well as to highlight particular global problems where underexploited plants seem notably promising. It results from knowledge gained in a small program at the National Research Council, which for the past 15 years has been evaluating under-recognized resources that could help developing nations.
The lesser-known food crops that remain outside the fold of science have not been rejected because of any inherent inferiority. Many have been overlooked merely because they are native to the tropics, a region generally neglected because the world's research resources are concentrated in the temperate zones.
While many food crops are neglected because they are in the tropics, even more are negelected because they are scorned as "poor people's plants". Peanuts, potatoes, and many other common crops once suffered from this same discrimination.
A remarkable collection of poor people's crops also suffering rejection is to be found in the highlands of South America. The Indians there are among the poorest people in the Western Hemisphere and, except for the potato, their crops remain outside the mainstream of agronomic science.
When Francisco Pizarro and the Conquistadores invaded Peru in 1531 they initiated events that 70 years later brought the potato to Europe.
However, they ignored several dozen other crops and these were virtually lost in the collapse of the Inca culture.
This review of some underexploited tropical crops, highlights promising food crops such as the oil palm Jessenia polycarpa, the grain amaranths (Amaranthus spp.), quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa) and oca (Oxalis tuberosa) which have been largely overlooked by research resources in the temperate zones. Among the legumes discussed, the groundnuts (Apios americanum and Voandzeia [Vigna] subterranea), yam beans (Pachyrrhizus spp.), winged beans (Psophocarpus tetragonolobus) and adzuki bean (Vigna angularis) are considered to warrant further development. Notes are given on the potential of some more obscure tropical fruits, including those belonging to the Solanacea and Ammonaceae, arid zone crops including tepary beans (Phaseolus acutifolius) and marama beans (Tylosema esculentum), valuable resource shrubs and such N-fixing trees as Leucaena leucocephala, Acacia mangium, Mimosa scabrella and Calliandra calothyrsus.
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Review, article, Africa, areals, sorghum, millets, indigenous food, yield, technology transfer, ICRISAT, IDRC, SAFGRAD,NRC
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