Protect minor cereals - they may return the favour

Can you name three types of grain? Einkorn, emmer and spelt, and even oats or rye may not be the first that spring to mind. And yet, rekindling the interest in these traditional crops would benefit the environment and our health, say EU-funded researchers.

Countries
Countries
  Algeria
  Argentina
  Australia
  Austria
  Bangladesh
  Belarus
  Belgium
  Benin
  Bolivia
  Bosnia and Herzegovina
  Brazil
  Bulgaria
  Burkina Faso
  Cambodia
  Cameroon
  Canada
  Cape Verde
  Chile
  China
  Colombia
  Costa Rica
  Croatia
  Cyprus
  Czechia
  Denmark
  Ecuador
  Egypt
  Estonia
  Ethiopia
  Faroe Islands
  Finland
  France
  French Polynesia
  Georgia

Countries
Countries
  Algeria
  Argentina
  Australia
  Austria
  Bangladesh
  Belarus
  Belgium
  Benin
  Bolivia
  Bosnia and Herzegovina
  Brazil
  Bulgaria
  Burkina Faso
  Cambodia
  Cameroon
  Canada
  Cape Verde
  Chile
  China
  Colombia
  Costa Rica
  Croatia
  Cyprus
  Czechia
  Denmark
  Ecuador
  Egypt
  Estonia
  Ethiopia
  Faroe Islands
  Finland
  France
  French Polynesia
  Georgia


  Infocentre

Published: 21 May 2019  
Related theme(s) and subtheme(s)
Agriculture & foodAgriculture
International cooperation
Research policySeventh Framework Programme
Countries involved in the project described in the article
Austria  |  Czechia  |  Estonia  |  Germany  |  Greece  |  Hungary  |  Poland  |  Switzerland  |  Turkey  |  United Kingdom
Add to PDF "basket"

Protect minor cereals - they may return the favour

Picture of the field trials with spelt, plot and different genotypes

© Janovská 2017

Updated on 21 May 2019

Putting healthy minor cereals back on the menu is the objective of the aptly named EU-funded project HealthyMinorCereals. Partners from 10 countries cooperated in this effort to develop and highlight the potential of traditional grain crops that have been upstaged by common wheat and barley.

Their message has fallen on fertile ground, says project coordinator Dagmar Janovská of the Crop Research Institute, Czechia.

‘There is growing interest among farmers in ways of diversifying their production and cultivating crops that may well produce lower yields but are able to thrive under low-input systems and have high nutritional value,’ she explains.

Particular attention in the project focused on oats, rye and three lesser-known types of wheat: einkorn, emmer and spelt. Compared to the dominant grain crops, these cereals require far less in the way of fertiliser, pesticides and energy, the partners note. Further sustainability benefits derive from the fact that growing a wider variety of crops is in itself a useful strategy, in terms of potential exposure to droughts and diseases.

Growing interest

Optimising cultivation methods was one of the project’s priorities, as was the refinement of processing techniques. The researchers also interacted with millers, bakers and other interested parties to generate momentum, address practical matters and explore the market potential.

The HealthyMinorCereals partners planted, studied and cross-bred many hundreds of genotypes. They selected varieties with promising qualities, such as higher yields, greater resistance to fungal infections and particular suitability for processing, while also looking into potential health benefits.

One intriguing finding in particular emerged in that respect, according to the team.

‘Minor cereals contain surprisingly high levels of certain antioxidant substances,’ says Janovská. ‘Our results indicate that increased consumption of foods made from minor cereals might help to prevent oxidative cell damage and minimise the detrimental effects of a number of chronic illnesses.’

It would be premature to say more, she adds – the results have yet to be published. But the case for reintroducing minor cereals into our diets might turn out to be even stronger than it appeared when this five-year project was launched.

Project details

  • Project acronym: HealthyMinorCereals
  • Participants: Czechia (Coordinator), Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Poland, Turkey, UK
  • Project N°: 613609
  • Total costs: € 6 465 803
  • EU contribution: € 4 928 336
  • Duration: September 2013 to August 2018

See also

 

Convert article(s) to PDF

No article selected


loading


Search articles

Notes:
To restrict search results to articles in the Information Centre, i.e. this site, use this search box rather than the one at the top of the page.

After searching, you can expand the results to include the whole Research and Innovation web site, or another section of it, or all Europa, afterwards without searching again.

Please note that new content may take a few days to be indexed by the search engine and therefore to appear in the results.

Print Version
Share this article
See also
Project website
Project details