“Zero Hunger” is one of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as food and nutrition security are key requirements for human well-being. An estimated 800 million people worldwide are already undernourished (FAO 2019). The growing human population and high demand for agricultural production jointly pose a major challenge to safeguarding food security for future generations. In addition, decreasing agricultural land area, rising urbanization, changing food consumption patterns, and global climate change sharpen this problem even more. Although, there is already research on the impact of changing climate on nutritional quality, it has focused primarily on staple crops. Very little information is available for local, “orphan” crops, and other recently domesticated or otherwise wild species that are cultivated in many countries of the Global South. The forum for Plant Biology and the Politics of Nutrition (BiPoN) adresses these research subjects and will thus form a common basis for the development of further research activities aimed at establishing food and nutrition security, and thereby improvements to human well-being.
The BiPoN forum aims to determine how human action and environmental factors interact in decision-making processes about edible food plants, including crops and trees, that are introduced and cultivated in different parts of the world. This brings about a range of interrelated questions addressing the establishment and crossing of both conceptual and physical boundaries. The definition and characterisation of “wild plants” and “(orphan) crops”, as well as issues of control, conflicts and debates will be addressed in close coordination between biologists and social scientists, and in cooperation among scientists from across the globe. To achieve a comprehensive database, experiments, ethnographic work, and socio-economic surveys will be performed in collaboration with international partner universities such as Egerton University (Kenya), University of the Western Cape (South Africa), University of Namibia, and Universitas Gadjah Mada (Indonesia). The Master’s students involved in this project will conduct empirical research for selected case studies across the Global North and South. With their Master’s projects they will collect important data and are thus an integral part of the research team.