عنوان مقاله [English]
Conventional agriculture has led to a massive erosion of plant genetic resources in agroecosystems, due to agricultural intensification. Such process has resulted in underutilized and neglected crops, many of which were historically adapted to the local environmental conditions, they were grown. These crops were important in terms of both diet and socio-economic aspects of local communities. Underutilized crops are regarded as new crops for those who use them for the first time most of which were used widely once in the past but now due to different reasons are less attracted to the farmers and the users. Neglected crops are still cultivated in their center of origin by the local communities. They contributed significantly to biodiversity of cropping systems. However little is known about the agronomic and environmental criteria of these crops based on the new area of environmental changes. Since neglected crops are low input and extensive in terms of inputs, yield improvement, quality, marketing and policy framework strategies are needed in order to enhance their proper use and economic value. Traditionally these crops were used as food, fiber, fodder, oil and medicinal sources but at present due to their unrecognized properties and also poor consumer’s awareness they have not been brought to use in a wide scale. One of the important issues related to the reintroduction of these crops to the cropping system is proper understanding of their properties and the way they could be adapted to the new area of technologies. However, care should be taking to preserve their genetic identity based on the low input cropping systems. The aim of the present study was to identify neglected and underutilized crops in Iran for the possible reintroduction to the cropping systems on the account of serious environmental changes.
Materials and Methods
This study was based on the field and documented data collection by questionnaire field visit, interview and literature review. Species were classified into two groups of underutilized and neglected and their specifications such as local and scientific names, ecological criteria, yield, life span (annual, biennial and perennial), growth form (herb, woody and …) and cultivation requirements, historical use and present status in the country were investigated.
Results and Discussion
There were 17 less-used species (in 13 families) and 5 forgotten species (in 4 families). Low competitive value of these species compared with those of high productive value crops, introduction of new crop varieties, deep changes in food and drug consumption regime, political and socio-economic factors and finally prohibition for cultivation of some species such as opium were the cause of this neglect. In addition replacement with new species adapted to new technologies was also responsible for substitution. As the demand for new nutritional traits is increasing, neglected crops can overcome the constraints to the wider production and use. Although attempts for large-scale cultivation of neglected and underutilized crops appear to be increasingly exhausted, many species have the potential to contribute to food security, nutrition, health and income generation and consequently more socio-economic benefits. Despite their potential for food diversification and providing important nutrients such as vitamins and minerals, they continue to attract little research and development attention.
In the context of the present study underutilized crops for Iran considered to be species such as sesame (Sesamun indicum), flax (Linum usitatissimum), Jutte (Hibiscus cannabinus), castor bean (Ricinus communis), sorghum (Sorghum bicolor), hemp (Cannabis sativa), safflower (Carthamus tinctorius), Secale (Secale cereale), millet (Panucum miliaceum), lathyrus (Lathyrus sativus), Sainfoin (Onobrychis viciifolia), Rubia (Rubia tinctorum), Sweet Potato (Ipomoea batatas), Henna (Lawsonia inermis), Tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum) and Rheum (Rheum ribes) and the important neglected crops are opium (Papaver somniferum), Eruca (Eruca sativa), Vasmeh (Indigofera tinctoria) and Rumex (Romex acetosella).