Biodiversity conservation of the neglected and underutilized Nigerian horticultural crops


Authors: Funmilayo Mary Oloyede, Dickson Stephen Ola and Emmanuel Adegboyega Iwalewa

Volume/Issue: Volume 26: Issue 1

Published online: 23 May 2023

Pages: 64 - 72



Biodiversity is fundamental for ecosystem functioning, sustainable crop production, soil health, and attainment of food andnutrition security. Loss of biodiversity in Africa and across the globe, and its negative impacts on food security, climate, and healthmust be curbed. African indigenous and underutilized crops are not likely to cause diet-related diseases. In addition, some ofthem cannot be adversely affected by climate change, and they also require minimum agronomic input to yield optimally. Besidessupplying appropriate proportions of essential minerals, underutilized horticultural crops can also reduce hunger and alleviatepoverty. While abiotic stresses like low/high temperature, drought, light intensity, and sub-optimal relative humidity will havenegative impacts on exotic plants growth and development, indigenous crops are seldom affected. It is of great importance thatthe neglected and underutilized plant species (NUS) also serve a dual purpose as food for man as well as animal feed. Despitethese crucial roles that the NUS play, some are still threatened with neglect and potentials not maximized. This paper discussesstrategies that can be adopted to conserve NUS for their optimum utilization, with the Nigerian rain forest species as prototypes.Deliberate identification and cultivation of the NUS, establishment of gene and field banks, recognition and promotion of theNUS through national and special research and development programmes, use of media, including social, extension agents andagencies, linking the NUS to relevant industries including food, feed, and pharmaceuticals, and biodiversity conservation throughdiversified farming systems etc. are major key strategies for Climate-smart and sustainable agriculture.

Keywords: biodiversity, Climate-smart agriculture, food security, gene banks, value chain



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