Welcome To Society for Underutilized Legumes (SUL)
I welcome you to this platform and duly congratulate everyone who has opted for love and research pursuit on underutilized crop species. The many awful descriptions of this group of crop species (abandoned, almost-exiting, endangered, lesser, lost, neglected, orphaned, stigmatized, traditional, undervalued, underutilized species etc.) were so frightening that many who would have ambitiously enlisted to make a career in its research were discouraged and opted for change of research focus. I am glad to represent the interest of the many minds who have found this forte a worthwhile abode for their professional development. We are few, we are rare, we are spread across many disciplines and we are focused with the goal: to improving awareness, research and utilization of underutilized legumes in the tropical regions of the world. Agricultural Research Institutes with mandate for these crop species are rare and agricultural platforms or centres with hosting right or program for the security of their germplasm are rarely available, because they are unfortunate crop species. How I hold in high esteem the Genetic Resources Centre (GRC), International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan, Nigeria for her passion in holding, freely sharing accessions of these species and supporting worthwhile research on them. Permit me to straightly say: “Working on these group of crop species would have been practically impossible; but for GRC, IITA, Ibadan, Nigeria”.
The rising research concentration on African yam bean and the quantity of requests by researchers for its genetic materials prompted Prof. Abberton Michael, the Head, GRC, IITA, Ibadan Nigeria, to organize a symposium to harness the stakeholders in African yam bean research on 18 – 19th October, 2016 for review, updates and way forward. I am sure floating a society for underutilized legume was not a prospect of the meeting; however, SUL may not have been a society today if not for the symposium. The initiative that led to the birth of SUL was taken by Dr. (Mrs.) Catherine Nnamani. Hence, the 1st National Conference & Stakeholders Forum on African Yam Bean (AYB 2017) took place 24 -26th May, 2017 at Law Auditorium, CAS Campus, Ebonyi State University, Abakaliki, Nigeria. There, the executives were constituted and the name African yam bean Conservation and Utilization Association of Nigeria (AYBCUAN) was coined.
However, for the sake of accommodating other counterpart legumes we now bear Society for Underutilized legumes (SUL), a society that is devoted to improving awareness, research and utilization of underutilized legumes in the Sub-Saharan Africa. The second National Conference came up in July, 2018 at the Covenant University, Ota, Nigeria. SUL was coined to reflect on the forgotten relevance of the traditional leguminous crops and their role in nutrition and food security. Underutilized crop species are vast, trending across all possible crop classifications. This society considers all the so called “stigmatized” crops species, so, the name: Society for Underutilized Legumes does not in any way infer the exemption of any. There are arrays of many valuable and available natural plant/crop substitutes to food fortification; such crops are traditionally and culturally linked to our food system. Nature is peaceful enough to make our health good for a prolonged life. This is what we showcase. I choose to conclude my remark with the words of Samberg (2016): “Actors working to celebrate the traditional crops and their management strategies with the hope of preserving both the diversity and cultural values has so much to do in the face of population growth, increased access to improved seed, cultural and political pressures”. We know that we have so much to do. Coming to know that the crop of our choice is labelled and hated could be frustrating, but as at today, their awareness has improved.
We are aware of the attending problems of our crops; with dedication we are poised to bring in the needed changes in these crops to facilitate attraction, adoption and see it come back to the meal tables. Our continuous pre-to-post harvest research and information dissemination programmes will achieve this over time.
Dr. Adewale, B. Daniel
National President, SUL