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Farm Radio Weekly is a news and information service for rural radio broadcasters in sub-Saharan Africa. It is published by Farm Radio International.

Farm Radio Weekly

Notes to broadcasters: ‘Forgotten’ crops

The article on which this story was based can be read in full here: http://www.trust.org/item/20131216143809-uh7dk?utm

Neglected and underused crops are domesticated plant species that have been used for centuries for their food, fibre, fodder, oil or medicinal properties. However, over time, they have fallen from favour for one or more reasons. These might include poor shelf life, unrecognized nutritional value, poor consumer awareness and “reputational problems” (being viewed as “famine food” or “poor people’s food.”) Now, they are often regarded as “lost” or “orphaned” crops. For more information on the subject, please visit the Collaborative Crop Research Program website at: http://mcknight.ccrp.cornell.edu/projects/neglected.html

The 3rd International Conference on Neglected and Underutilized Species (NUS): For a Food-Secure Africa took place in Accra, Ghana, in September 2013. Read more about the findings on their website, through this link: http://nus2013.org/

The National Academy Press has published three volumes on “lost” African crops, all of which are available online and for download. Volume I (Grains) is available at: http://books.nap.edu/openbook.php?isbn=0309049903. Volume II (Vegetables) is available here:   http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=11763. Volume III (Fruits) is available at: http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=11879&page=R1.

Farm Radio Weekly has published several stories on this subject. You might like to read through this selection of stories, and create a series of programs on your station:

Hit hard by changing climate, farmers choose traditional crop varieties (#261, September 2013 http://weekly.farmradio.org/2013/09/23/zimbabwe-hit-hard-by-changing-climate-farmers-choose-traditional-crop-varieties-trust/)

Traditional seeds help Sekhukhune District fight hunger (#146, February 2011 http://weekly.farmradio.org/2011/02/28/south-africa-traditional-seeds-help-sekhukhune-district-fight-hunger-by-fidelis-zvomuya-for-farm-radio-weekly-in-south-africa/)

Re-discovery of traditional crops helps farmers cope with climate change (#87, November 2009 http://weekly.farmradio.org/2009/11/09/3-africa-re-discovery-of-traditional-crops-helps-farmers-cope-with-climate-change-farm-radio-weekly/)

The “rediscovery” of forgotten, or orphaned, crops, is in part connected with the changing climate. Please read FRW’s recent Notes to broadcasters on climate change (#265, October 2013 http://weekly.farmradio.org/2013/10/28/notes-to-broadcasters-climate-change/) for more information on that subject.

There are several FRI scripts on this topic, including:

African traditional vegetables back on the table (Pack 95, Item 14, December 2012), available at http://www.farmradio.org/radio-resource-packs/package-95-researching-and-producing-farmer-focused-programs/african-traditional-vegetables-back-on-the-table/.

You might consider hosting a call-in or text-in show that gets people talking about traditional crops that are grown and enjoyed in your area:

-Which traditional crops are grown in your area? Is the variety or quantity of traditional crops grown greater or less than it was a few decades ago?
-Are there traditional crops that were grown by earlier generations, but are no longer grown? Are there wild crops that were used in the past, but not now?
-Where do these traditional crops grow (e.g., in small family gardens, on commercial farms, in the wild)? How difficult is it to produce these traditional crops as opposed to other crops?
-How do the traditional crops vary in taste or use from other crops? Do people in your listening audience know how they differ in terms of nutritional value?
-What is the difference in price between traditional and other crops in local markets? What is the difference between farmers’ profit margins for traditional crops and other crops?

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