The Global Manifesto on Forgotten Foods is a landmark document representing a wide consensus on a coherent framework for a transformation of the agricultural research and innovation system—by fully unleashing the potential of so-called ‘forgotten foods’.
Also referred to as neglected and underutilized species (NUS), indigenous foods, orphan crops or future foods, “forgotten foods” encompasses tens of thousands of biodiverse plant and animal species that offer us different food options—providing valuable nutrients and supporting resilient, climate-smart agriculture.
GFAR’s Collective Action on Forgotten Foods aims to define, together with farmers and other innovation actors, what needs to change for research systems to better support and build on the efforts of local organizations and farmers to take advantage of forgotten foods. The Manifesto is meant to place smallholder farmers center stage, as producers and custodians of forgotten foods and related knowledge, agents of change and co-producers of (new) knowledge and practices. It will serve as a guide for the present and the future of forgotten foods by outlining a process of negotiation between formal science and the local learning and problem-solving capabilities of farmers.
The drafting of the Manifesto was carried out through a broad and intensive consultation process carried out in Africa, Asia-Pacific, Europe and the Middle East, led by a coalition of Regional Research Organizations and their partners, in particular, AARINENA, APAARI and FARA. The process was facilitated by GFAR and supported by Crops for the Future (CFF) and the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT.
In this process, thousands of actors from numerous countries took part in survey activities, data analysis, presentations and discussions, deliberations and debates, and in the drafting of three regional manifestos on forgotten foods that informed the Global Manifesto. Actors included members of farmer organizations, civil society and community-based organizations, women and youth organizations, research, extension and development organizations, private sector entities, and government agencies.
The scale and scope of this initiative are unprecedented and represent a big step forward on the global forgotten foods agenda. The Manifesto calls for concrete actions that contribute to achieving multiple Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and to the ‘Right to Food’ and the ‘Right to Health’ embedded in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is also meant to be used as an invaluable input for the United Nations Food Systems Summit in 2021 to recognize the importance of these crops and the role of farmers in addressing the multiple crises we face today.
The Manifesto calls for:
- Transformative action to turn forgotten foods into respected, valued and supported ingredients of healthy diets, sustainable livelihoods and resilient seed and food systems.
- Recognition of smallholder farmers and their communities as forgotten foods custodians of knowledge and good practice and agents of change.
- Development and research investments in forgotten crops that are resilient and well-adapted to a wider range of environments and cropping systems.
- Policy and economic support to promote economic development through the formation of farmer-based small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
- Gender transformative approaches for equity and transformation of power dynamics and structures to overcome social, cultural and other forms of inequality in the management of forgotten foods.
- A portfolio of targeted interventions which bring farmer communities at the center stage of development, research and innovation as co-producers of knowledge and practices.