Bruce French has recently returned from Malaysia where he gave a presentation to people from 40 countries who were attending the International Symposium on Under-Utilised Plant Species.

There is chronic malnutrition throughout the tropical world, with up to one billion going hungry and a child dying every 4-5 seconds from malnutrition.  A child becomes blind due to vitamin A deficiency every minute.  Less well-known but locally adapted food plants, especially leafy greens, are crucial to meeting this hidden hunger.  The changing paradigm for food production using agro-ecological methods is the strategy to produce what is being called “The Evergreen Revolution”.  It is considered the way of the future.

There is an exciting new interest among scientists such as the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, as well as other national organisations, to research these crops.  They are seeking to highlight the virtues of these plants and this approach, since most so far have been at an individual country or crop level.

The presentation delivered by Bruce about the Food Plants International database of over 23,000 plant species and Learn Grow received a good reception.  In addition, this work was the only one to receive a specific commendation in the final wrap-up session.It is hoped that significant collaboration and distribution networks will develop from the visit and the conference.  A new research centre, focusing specifically on native under-utilised crops, is to be established in Malaysia to give these plants the attention they deserve.