Neglected indigenous food can be an important tool to fight hunger

United Nations officials have indicated that indigenous foods which have been neglected by the food industry and urban consumers can be an important tool to alleviate hunger and malnutrition.

The focus of research and crop improvement on a few widely consumed crops has helped meet the food needs of the rapidly growing world population, but it has narrowed dramatically the number of species upon which global food security and agricultural incomes depend,” the Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific, Hiroyuki Konuma, said at a UN-backed symposium in north-eastern Thailand.

According to FAO, globalization has reduced the number of plant species used for food and other purposes from roughly 100,000 to about 30%. With the global population expected to reach nine billion by 2050, FAO is concerned that the world may not be able to produce enough food to meet demand.

Indigenous and traditional foods – which are sometimes undervalued and classified as ‘foods of the poor’ or ‘forgotten foods’ – can play an important role in helping the estimated 925 million people who suffer from hunger and malnutrition worldwide, 60% of whom live in the Asia-Pacific region, FAO noted in a news release.

Neglected traditional foods in Asia that could help meet the needs of local populations included are: forest fruits, sago palm, medicinal wild plants and edible insects.

A reasonable solution could be to Go local; and maximize the utilization of locally available foods in order to enhance local food security. More research and development into neglected food sources, and for the promotion of a greater diversity of sources of nourishment is needed.

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