A new curriculum on neglected and underutilized species published

ANAFE and Bioversity International with the support of various partners have published a new curriculum on neglected and underutilized (NUS) species. The curriculum is intended to introduce the subject into the education curricula—using the examples of fruits and nuts, vegetables, animals and insects.

Per Rudebjer of Bioversity International addressing participants during the workshop to develop the curriculum

Per Rudebjer of Bioversity International addressing participants during the workshop to develop the curriculum

It is a product of a project on ‘Strengthening capacities and informing policies for developing value chains of neglected and underutilized crops in Africa’ supported by the ACP-EU Science & Technology Programme with co-financing by the project partners. Other partners in the project are: the Africa University, Zimbabwe; International Foundation for Science (IFS), Sweden; Laboratory of Agricultural Biodiversity and Tropical Plant Breeding (LAAPT), Benin and University of
Nairobi, Kenya.

A workshop to develop the curriculum guide was held in Nairobi on 22-24 September 2015, followed by a curriculum ‘write-shop’. The two events brought together various specialists and stakeholders who all contributed and made valuable inputs in the content of this curriculum guide.

The curriculum is divided into five modules as outlined below:
1. Introduction to neglected and underutilized species;
2. Neglected and underutilized fruit and nut tree species;
3. Neglected and underutilized vegetables;
4. Neglected and underutilized insects for food and feed;
5. Neglected and underutilized rodents

ANAFE and Bioversity International are convinced that students of agriculture and other related disciplines in both social and biophysical sciences would benefit from having a basic understanding of what these species are, how they are used and how they could be included in the fight against poverty, hunger and malnutrition.

Students could learn how these species form profitable value chains and perhaps be a business opportunity for graduates. This curriculum guide targets a range of educational institutions from the vocational to the academic level.

Neglected and underutilized species are useful species of plants and animals including fungi, insects and fish, to which little attention is paid or which are entirely overlooked by researchers, educators, breeders, extensionists and policymakers. Some of these species have been domesticated by local communities, others are gathered from the wild, but their cultivation and wider use are constrained by, among other factors, the lack of awareness, poor investment in their development and insufficient human and institutional capacity.

NUS tend to be managed within traditional systems, using informal seed or germplasm sources. Their processing can be laborious, grading and packaging primitive and the products marketed locally with limited or no involvement of large enterprises or agricultural service providers. In most countries, agricultural statistics and research do not include NUS.