February 26, 2018

27/02/2018: Addressing biodiversity, hidden hunger and malnutrition

by Clifford Spencer, Goodwill Ambassador, NEPAD and Chairman, Milling4Life

Clifford Spencer
For those of you that regularly read this column, you will be aware of my concern regarding the narrowing choice of grains as feedstock for millers of food and feed. The rate of change in cereal production and its reduction to just three principle crops of maize, wheat and rice is ultimately to the consumers loss in terms of food and feed value as well as animal and human nutrition and health.

In 2018 Milling4Life will be working with various initiatives to reverse this trend of reducing biodiversity and also to aid research in major opportunities for previously ignored crops as feedstocks for the industry. We will be doing this, as these are more often than not the crops that smallholder and subsistence farmers in developing countries both understand and rely upon for their survival. What is missing is the investment in plant breeding and agronomy for these crops that the ‘big three’ of wheat, rice and maize have received over the last century.

One initiative you will be hearing more about during 2018 is the African Orphan Crops Initiative (AOCC), which we will be working closely. Nutrition is at the core of AOCC and that consortium is working to address hidden hunger, malnutrition and stunting in Africa through the use of nutritious local food crops. Many of these crops are rich in vitamins, micronutrients, anti-oxidants and medicinal ingredients. Due to non-standard and unimproved cultivars grown in the countryside, it is possible that they vary in their nutritional compositions and this may not help in getting the right nutrition in the correct proportions. AOCC aims to make these nutritious crops already grown at scale in Africa productive.

Another initiative whose work we will be supporting is the Global Crop Diversity Trust (GCDT). Crop diversity is essential for life on earth as it underpins nearly everything we eat and drink, but that diversity is rapidly disappearing. The Crop Trust is responding to the crisis threatening the foundation of our food and is the only international organisation dedicated solely to conserving and making available crop diversity.

We will also be looking at developments in cereal processing technologies like extrusion, and how the benefits of these developing technologies can be incorporated into and for the benefit of smallholder production in developing countries. Encouraging grower co-operatives and the adoption of modern milling technology has the potential to be life changing in these situations.

Read the full article, HERE.

The Global Miller
This blog is maintained by The Global Miller staff and is supported by the magazine Milling and Grain
which is published by Perendale Publishers Limited.

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