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Lost Crops of Africa: Volume I: Grains (1996)

Chapter: BOSTID Innovation Program

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Suggested Citation:"BOSTID Innovation Program." National Research Council. 1996. Lost Crops of Africa: Volume I: Grains. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2305.
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The BOSTID Innovation Program

Since its inception in 1970, BOSTID has had a small project to evaluate innovations that could help the Third World. Formerly known as the Advisory Committee on Technology Innovation (ACT I), this small program has been identifying unconventional developments in science and technology that might help solve specific developing-country problems. In a sense, it acts as an ''innovation scout"—providing information on options that should be tested or incorporated into activities in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

So far, the BOSTID innovation program has published about 40 reports, covering, among other things, underexploited crops, trees, and animal resources, as well as energy production and use. Each book is produced by a committee of scientists and technologists (including both skeptics and proponents), with scores (often hundreds) of researchers contributing their knowledge and recommendations through correspondence and meetings.

These reports are aimed at providing reliable and balanced information, much of it not readily available elsewhere and some of it never before recorded. In its two decades of existence, this program has distributed more than 500,000 copies of its reports. Among other things, it has introduced to the world grossly neglected plant species such as jojoba, guayule, leucaena, mangium, amaranth, and the winged bean.

BOSTID's innovation books, although often quite detailed, are designed to be easy to read and understand. They are produced in an attractive, eye-catching format, their text and language carefully crafted to reach a readership that is uninitiated in the given field. In addition, most are illustrated in a way that helps readers deduce their message from the pictures and captions, and most have brief, carefully selected bibliographies, as well as lists of research contacts that lead readers to further information.

By and large, these books aim to catalyze actions within the Third World, but they usually also have utility in the United States, Europe, Japan, and other industrialized nations.

So far, the BOSTID innovation project on underexploited Third-World resources (Noel Vietmeyer, Director and Scientific Editor) has produced the following reports.

Ferrocement: Applications in Developing Countries (1973). 104 pp.

Mosquito Control: Perspectives for Developing Countries (1973). 76 pp.

Some Prospects for Aquatic Weed Management in Guyana (1974). 52 pp.

Suggested Citation:"BOSTID Innovation Program." National Research Council. 1996. Lost Crops of Africa: Volume I: Grains. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2305.
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Roofing in Developing Countries: Research for New Technologies (1974). 84 pp.

An International Centre for Manatee Research (1974). 38 pp.

More Water for Arid Lands (1974). 165 pp.

Products from Jojoba (1975). 38 pp.

Underexploited Tropical Plants (1975). 199 pp.

The Winged Bean (1975). 51 pp.

Natural Products for Sri Lanka's Future (1975). 53 pp.

Making Aquatic Weeds Useful (1976). 183 pp.

Guayule: An Alternative Source of Natural Rubber (1977). 92 pp.

Aquatic Weed Management: Some Prospects for the Sudan (1976). 57 pp.

Ferrocement: A Versatile Construction Material (1976). 106 pp.

More Water for Arid Lands (French edition, 1977). 164 pp.

Leucaena: Promising Forage and Tree Crop for the Tropics (1977). 123 pp.

Natural Products for Trinidad and the Caribbean (1979). 50 pp.

Tropical Legumes (1979). 342 pp.

Firewood Crops: Shrub and Tree Species for Energy Production (volume 1, 1980). 249 pp.

Water Buffalo: New Prospects for an Underutilized Animal (1981). 126 pp.

Sowing Forests from the Air (1981). 71 pp.

Producer Gas: Another Fuel for Motor Transport (1983). 109 pp.

Producer Gas Bibliography (1983). 50 pp.

The Winged Bean: A High-Protein Crop for the Humid Tropics (1981). 58 pp.

Mangium and Other Fast-Growing Acacias (1983). 72 pp.

Calliandra: A Versatile Tree for the Humid Tropics (1983). 60 pp.

Butterfly Farming in Papua New Guinea (1983). 42 pp.

Crocodiles as a Resource for the Tropics (1983). 69 pp.

Little-Known Asian Animals With Promising Economic Future (1983). 145 pp.

Firewood Crops: Shrub and Tree Species for Energy Production, Volume 2 (1983). 103 pp.

Casuarinas: Nitrogen-Fixing Trees for Adverse Sites (1984). 128 pp.

Amaranth: Modern Prospects for an Ancient Crop (1984). 90 pp.

Leucaena: Promising Forage and Tree Crop (Second edition, 1984). 110 pp.

Jojoba: A New Crop for Arid Lands (1985). 112 pp.

Quality-Protein Maize (1988). 112 pp.

Triticale: A Promising Addition to the World's Cereal Grains (1989). 113 pp.

Suggested Citation:"BOSTID Innovation Program." National Research Council. 1996. Lost Crops of Africa: Volume I: Grains. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2305.
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Lost Crops of the Incas: Little-Known Plants of the Andes with Promise for Worldwide Cultivation (1989). 427 pp.

Microlivestock: Little-Known Small Animals with a Promising Economic Future (1991). 468 pp.

Neem: A Tree for Solving Global Problems (1992). 151 pp.

Vetiver: A Thin Green Line Against Erosion (1993).

Lost Crops of Africa: Volume I - Grains (1995).

Lost Crops of Africa: Volume 2 - Cultivated Fruits (1995).

Foods of the Future: Tropical Fruits (1995)

Suggested Citation:"BOSTID Innovation Program." National Research Council. 1996. Lost Crops of Africa: Volume I: Grains. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2305.
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Page 373
Suggested Citation:"BOSTID Innovation Program." National Research Council. 1996. Lost Crops of Africa: Volume I: Grains. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2305.
×
Page 374
Suggested Citation:"BOSTID Innovation Program." National Research Council. 1996. Lost Crops of Africa: Volume I: Grains. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2305.
×
Page 375
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Lost Crops of Africa: Volume I: Grains Get This Book
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Scenes of starvation have drawn the world's attention to Africa's agricultural and environmental crisis. Some observers question whether this continent can ever hope to feed its growing population. Yet there is an overlooked food resource in sub-Saharan Africa that has vast potential: native food plants.

When experts were asked to nominate African food plants for inclusion in a new book, a list of 30 species grew quickly to hundreds. All in all, Africa has more than 2,000 native grains and fruits--"lost" species due for rediscovery and exploitation.

This volume focuses on native cereals, including

  • African rice, reserved until recently as a luxury food for religious rituals.
  • Finger millet, neglected internationally although it is a staple for millions.
  • Fonio (acha), probably the oldest African cereal and sometimes called "hungry rice."
  • Pearl millet, a widely used grain that still holds great untapped potential.
  • Sorghum, with prospects for making the twenty-first century the "century of sorghum."
  • Tef, in many ways ideal but only now enjoying budding commercial production.
  • Other cultivated and wild grains.

This readable and engaging book dispels myths, often based on Western bias, about the nutritional value, flavor, and yield of these African grains.

Designed as a tool for economic development, the volume is organized with increasing levels of detail to meet the needs of both lay and professional readers. The authors present the available information on where and how each grain is grown, harvested, and processed, and they list its benefits and limitations as a food source.

The authors describe "next steps" for increasing the use of each grain, outline research needs, and address issues in building commercial production.

Sidebars cover such interesting points as the potential use of gene mapping and other "high-tech" agricultural techniques on these grains.

This fact-filled volume will be of great interest to agricultural experts, entrepreneurs, researchers, and individuals concerned about restoring food production, environmental health, and economic opportunity in sub-Saharan Africa.

Selection, Newbridge Garden Book Club

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