Reviving neglected crops for more nutritious food


Just four crops - wheat, maize, rice and soybean - provide two-thirds of the world’s food supply. But scientists in Malaysia are trying to change that by reviving a diversity of crops that have been relegated to the sidelines in spite of high nutritional value.

Crops For the Future (CFF) Malaysia is a project bringing together agricultural diversity with the mission to produce good quality nutritious food. It does this by rediscovering ‘forgotten’ crops and returning them to the landscape by processing them into a new range of foods and finding markets for them. At the heart of the project is the idea that crops need to be measured for their nutrition and not just their yield. Through CFF, plant experts, scientists and food technologists are rediscovering neglected foods such as kedondong, a crunchy, tart berry that Malaysians mostly use in pickles and salads, and testing their viability for scaling up. This project can be scaled by providing a source of inspiration to any food culture in which nutritious ingredients have been undervalued. Investing in neglected local crop varieties can also reduce the reliance on imported crops and long environmentally damaging supply chains. Reclaiming the diversity of crops we used to eat can also strengthen food security as many forgotten crops have proven to be among the most climate-resilient and nutritious, the CFF says.