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The University of Southampton

Research Group: Underutilised Crops

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Plants not only provide food for humans and animals but also pharmaceutical products and raw materials for industry. Without crop plants, the development and expansion of human society is not possible. Yet fewer than 20 of more than 13,000 known food plants provide the bulk of humanity's food needs. Accelerating population growth, ecological hazards and changes in market supply and demand make it necessary for scientists to maintain a constant search for improved varieties of the major crops and to diversify production by developing locally grown but underutilised crop plants.

Crop diversification is increasingly recognised as important to the farm economy. Much of the potential of presently underutilised crops is not realised, however, because of lack of appropriate research and information on the use and marketing of plant products. The potential for such crops may be restricted to the internal economy of one or just a few countries.  

We systematically scrutinise, evaluate and identify priority plants for R&D, and create a database from which information can be made more widely known. A single crop species is unlikely to satisfy diverse agroecological conditions, and we will work for the development of different viable market options and strategies.

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