African Orphan Crops

A Story from the Land

Building on Cultural and Nutritional Heritage: African Plant Scientists Breeding African Crops for African Farmers

African Orphan Crops

Assessments of a larger number of individual crops that have cultural, indigenous and regional importance are critical if we are to expand climate adaptation options, ensure food security and improve nutrition, create diversified and integrated systems that reflect local conditions and cultures, and increase the stability of agriculture and forestry livelihoods. 101 crops that form the backbone of the pan-African food system have not had the attention of plant breeders’ efforts to develop superior nutritional varieties that will end chronic hunger and malnutrition, a cause of stunting. 

To address this shortcoming, 115 mid-career plant breeders from 27 African countries have graduated from the African Plant Breeding Academy after being trained by some of the best plant breeders in the world, after learning how to improve these 101 key crops through breeding for improved nutrition, higher yields, water and nutrient use efficiency, pest and disease resistance and climatic resilience. These graduates have launched 37 improved crop varieties, published over 180 peer reviewed scientific papers, and initiated over 200 national breeding programs. The African Orphan Crop Consortium’s students become leaders in the field of plant breeding who will pass on their knowledge to the next generation of African plant breeders and develop the future annuals, perennials and trees that will end chronic hunger and malnutrition in Africa. This uncommon collaboration includes The African Union Development Agency-NEPAD, The World Agroforestry Centre, UC Davis, FAO, Mars, Incorporated, World Food Program, and Wageningen University to mention a few of the consortia.


SfL Pathways: research, innovation technologies, uncommon collaborations

Addressing SDGs: zero hunger, good health and well-being, climate action, life on land

Read the African Orphan Crops Consortium 2019 Progress Report

Our Vision

An Agricultural Renaissance, led by innovative and entrepreneurial farmers, ranchers and foresters constructing sustainable, profitable and resilient systems that lay the foundation for a world of abundance on many scales capable of producing nutritious food, feed, fiber, clean energy, healthy ecosystems, quality livelihoods, and strong rural economies.