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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2023

The Importance of Becoming Tamed: Wild Food Plants as Possible Novel Crops in Selected Food-Insecure Regions

Sulaiman, Naji; Aziz, Muhammad Abdul; Stryamets, Nataliya; Mattalia, Giulia; Zocchi, Dauro Mattia; Ahmed, Hiwa M.; Manduzai, Ajmal Khan; Shah, Adnan Ali; Faiz, Abdullah; Soukand, Renata; Polesny, Zbynek; Pieroni, Andrea


Domestication of new plants is one of the key (ongoing) phenomena in the history of agriculture. Wild plants are the ancestors of current and future crops and the largest reservoir of genetic diversity for crop breeding and improvement. Wild food species have been used for human nutrition since ancient times and are often the object of human strategies for coping with emergency situations, such as natural disasters and conflicts. We analyzed qualitative data collected through ethnobotanical field studies conducted in recent years in five selected Eurasian regions (Afghanistan, Kurdistan region of Iraq, Pakistan, Syria, and Ukraine) that have been recently affected by wars and/or socio-political turbulence. Data were collected through participant observation and semi-structured interviews with local people. We identified five taxa for each region, which are culturally very salient in the local food systems, that retain an important economic value in local markets, and that, therefore, could be good candidates for becoming novel crops. The cultivation of the reported species may significantly help local communities in their post-war livelihoods and especially in terms of food security and domestic nutritional care. Future studies should focus on the agronomic feasibility of the highlighted species within their regional ecosystems.


ethnobotany; wild food plants; Afghanistan; Kurdistan; Pakistan; Syria; Ukraine

Published in

2023, Volume: 9, number: 2, article number: 171
Publisher: MDPI

    SLU Authors

    Sustainable Development Goals

    SDG2 Zero hunger

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Agricultural Science

    Publication Identifiers


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