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Forgotten crops in the limelight

The paper “Forgotten food crops in sub-Saharan Africa for healthy diets in a changing climate” by Maarten van Zonneveld, Roeland Kindt, Stepha McMullin, Enoch G. Achigan-Dako, SognigbĂ© N’Danikou, Wei-hsun Hsieh, Yann-rong Lin, and Ian K. Dawson has won the PNAS 2023 Cozzarelli Prize for the best paper of the year in Applied Biological, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences. Here’s the abstract:

As the climate changes, major staple crop production in sub-Saharan Africa becomes increasingly vulnerable. Underutilized traditional food plants offer opportunities for diversifying cropping systems. In this study, the authors used climate niche modeling to assess the potential of 138 traditional food plants to diversify or replace staple crop production in sub-Saharan Africa by 2070. The authors report that staple crops may no longer be able to grow at approximately 10% of locations by 2070. Further, the authors identified 58 traditional crops that provide complementary micronutrient contents suitable for integration into staple cropping systems under current and projected climatic conditions. The results suggest that diversifying sub-Saharan African food production with underutilized crops could improve climate resilience and dietary health.

And here’s a video explaining the results: