About Us

To be a world leader producing excellent, innovative research on underutilised crops that is responsive to societal demands. 
To develop solutions that diversify agriculture using underutilised crops. 
Our Goals
  • To secure a greater role for underutilised crops in global agriculture, especially in developing regions of the world.
  • Through our research, provide trusted knowledge on underutilised crops.
  • With our partners, establish a global research community on underutilised crops.
  • From our outputs, deliver innovative and useful products from underutilised crops.
  • By our actions, develop evidence-based, sustainable applications using underutilised crops for society and environment.
CFF closely mapped its plans to the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, through world-class research that contributes to specific Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). CFF is focusing its efforts where it can achieve the greatest impact by leveraging on knowledge, capabilities and global partnerships.

Roadmap is designed to enable sustainable long-term grown. By achieving its 2030 goals, CFF will continue to enhance its ability to develop solutions that will help transform agriculture for good.  Read more here.

Underutilised Crops and Agricultural Biodiversity

Garcinia atroviridis
What are underutilised crops?
Underutilised crops are those with unrealised potential to contribute to human welfare, in particular for:
  • Income generation for the world's poor
  • Food security and nutrition
  • Reduction of 'hidden hunger' (caused by micronutrient deficiencies resulting from uniform diets)

Have strong links to the cultural heritage of their places of origin, or to places where they have been introduced in the past

  • A long history of mainly local production or are wild species whose distribution, biology, cultivation and uses are poorly documented
  • Adaptation to specific agro-ecological niches and / or marginal land
  • Weak seed supply systems
  • Much intra-specific diversity (e.g. exist as landraces rather than varieties)
  • Traditional and diverse uses and processing methods that vary locally
  • A role in traditional production systems with little or no external inputs
  • Received limited attention from researchers, extension agencies, farmers, decision makers, donors, technology providers and consumers
  • Nutritional, culinary, medicinal or other properties that are little-known or under-appreciated.
What is agricultural biodiversity and why is it important?
At a global scale, agricultural output is increasingly homogeneous. Fewer than 30 plant species account for more than 95% of humankind’s food needs and just three major crops; wheat, maize and rice, provide over 60% of our food supply.
The cultivation of underutilised crop species and their incorporation into the diets of humans and livestock have a number of potential benefits, including:
  • Improved food security by reducing our dependency on only major crops for food and non-food uses
  • Providing a greater range of options to address climate change
  • Optimising land resources by cultivating soils that are marginal or unsuitable for the world's major crops
  • Promoting access to better nutrition for communities, particularly in the developing regions of the world
  • Diversifying income generating opportunities for small and medium-scale farmers

Our Legacy

Crops For the Future was established in 2009 following the merger of the International Centre for Underutilised Crops (ICUC) in Sri Lanka and the Global Facilitation Unit for Underutilised Species (GFU) in Italy.
Since its inception, Crops For the Future has established partnerships with organisations around the world to improve food and nutrition security, health and incomes of the poor, and the sustainable management of fragile ecosystems.
Crops For the Future Research Centre (CFFRC) was established in 2011 to provide research support for the global Crops For the Future organisation. CFFRC is a company limited by guarantee and without share capital. Its guarantors are the Government of Malaysia and the University of Nottingham in Malaysia.
In 2014, Crops For the Future and CFFRC combined their resources to form a single global entity - Crops For the Future (CFF).
CFF now combines its research and development functions on underutilised crops (CFF Research) with FutureCrop, an educational resource for underutilised crops and agricultural biodiversity. Both CFF Research and FutureCrop will increasingly offer consultancy services to interested parties.
Continue to read more on the history of ICUC and GFU here

Our Structure
Our Structure

Our Organisation

Our Organisation

History of ICUC and GFU

The International Centre for Underutilised Crops (ICUC)
The International Centre for Underutilised Crops (ICUC) was founded in 1992 at the University of Southampton, UK as a research, development and training organisation. Its main achievement over the past 15 years has been to put underutilised crops onto the agenda of national research programmes, especially in South and South-East Asia. Since its inception, ICUC has been instrumental in the organisation of a series of national and regional planning and priority setting workshops, has supported national research institutions with germplasm collections and characterisation of priority crops, and has provided training opportunities in close collaboration with national and regional research and enterprise development organisations in 21 countries in Asia, Latin America and Africa.

ICUC’s flagship project “Fruits for the Future” produced and distributed globally, valuable factsheets, monographs and technical manuals for ten underutilised fruit tree species in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Its regional project on the processing and marketing of underutilised fruits has trained key personnel in five Asian countries, produced a processing manual and related processing posters for eight key species in English and seven local languages. Through training and business development support, targeted local people in Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Vietnam have been enabled to double their household incomes from indigenous fruit processing and marketing. A recent project “Coalition to Diversify Income from Underused Crops” now upscales the knowledge further in India and Vietnam.

ICUC has also been instrumental in the founding of several professional networks, in particular UTFANET (Underutilised Tropical Fruits in Asia Network), UTVAPNET (Underutilised Tropical Vegetables for Asia and the Pacific Network), SEANUC (Southern and East Africa Network for Underutilised Crops) and ACUC (Asian Centre for Underutilised Crops).

ICUC moved to Sri Lanka under new leadership in late 2005 and has since developed into a global champion for underutilised crops. It was instrumental in the setting up of a special working group on underutilised species within the International Society for Horticultural Science, is a founding member of the Global Partnership on Non-timber Forest Products and has provided leadership in the development of a new global strategic framework for underutilised plants research and development. Several research reports and position papers on key issues have been published.
Global Facilitation Unit for Underutilised Species (GFU)
The Global Facilitation Unit for Underutilised Species (GFU) of the Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR) was established in 2002 and was housed within Bioversity International, Italy. As a multi-institutional initiative, GFU has promoted the wider use of underutilised plant species through supporting and facilitating the work of other stakeholders, lobbying the inclusion of these species into international and national research and development agendas, and better donor support, thus creating an enabling environment for stakeholders who are engaged in developing neglected underutilised species (NUS).

Through its interactive web portal, news updates, accessible databases and awareness building activities, the GFU has built a broad alliance of researchers, policy makers, development specialists, agricultural producers and consumers.

Major achievements have been the identification and development of approaches and decision steps for the promotion of underutilised plant species, the formulation of the Chennai Platform for Action that advocates a greater focus on agricultural diversity and NUS in order to address the MDG on halving hunger and poverty by 2015, the inclusion of NUS in FAO’s Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (GRFA) workplan. Together with ICUC, GFU led the development of the new strategic framework for research and development of underutilised plant species.

GFU analyzed national policies and international agreements to identify gaps and produce recommendations for policy amendment to increase use of NUS. A particular important result jointly achieved with partner organisations has been the formulation and submission of recommendations to amend the EU Novel Food Regulation, a non-tariff barrier to trade with NUS based products. A revised version of the Regulation, circulated in early 2008 for further comments and notified to WTO, will provide better access to NUS products from non-EU countries to the EU market. It is expected to enter into force in 2009.

In order to respond to the perceived high potential of NUS for income generation through their commercialisation, the GFU has developed guidelines for NUS value chain development and provided a set of recommendations regarding geographical indications as tools for sustainable use of genetic resources and rural development. GFU has been instrumental in the design and establishment of a regular training course on marketing NUS at Wageningen International. GFU developed and made available a number of public awareness materials, including posters, leaflets and brochures. A travelling exhibition of commercial products made from NUS demonstrates the market potential of these species.
Corporate Donations
Help address some of humankind’s greatest challenges through underutilised crops and agricultural diversification.
We need your help to deliver our ground-breaking research activities and build a global community of knowledge and expertise on underutilised crops and agricultural biodiversity.
  • Our Research
    Our research activities are designed, elaborated, managed, implemented, monitored and evaluated in a manner that follows best international practice. Each project is defined in terms of its multidisciplinary requirements. Resource requirements, and their timing, provide the basis of costing each project. Milestones / timelines are used to monitor the progress and performance of each project. Read more
  • How You Can Invest
    Partners or sponsors can invest in:
    • Our core functions
    • Specific programmes or projects
    • Endowed Chairs or Senior Research positions
    • Postdoctoral fellowships
    • Postgraduate studentships
    • Short-term internships
  • Get In Touch
    To discuss how you can help address some of humankind’s greatest challenges through agricultural diversification, please get in touch.
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