CFF Research

The aim of CFF’s research is to enhance the development and production of currently underutilised crops, by delivering evidence, knowledge and prototypes of value-added products for public and commercial good. To further this aim, CFF will be responsive to societal demands and open to collaboration and partnerships.
For a quick overview on CFF research work, please watch this video.

Research Objectives
Our objectives are to:
  • Use genetic diversity and genomics to develop viable phenotypes and genotypes of currently underutilised crop species for production in a range of cropping systems.
  • Integrate knowledge of crop type, diversity and agronomy to develop practices to optimise crop performance, quality and resource use efficiency in specific cropping systems.
  • Use a food system approach to identify the major factors influencing nutritional and other desirable qualities of underutilised crop species along the value chain and develop innovative food and non-food products for public and commercial good.
  • Develop an evidence base on underutilised crops to assess their potential contributions to the bioeconomy and food and nutritional security in current and future climates.
  • Communicate the evidence.

Research Priorities
CFF research will focus on key societal challenges of food and nutritional security, mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions, adaptation to climate change, the sustenance of biodiversity and the development of the bioeconomy to promote human livelihoods.  CFF has a food system approach that adds value along the whole food chain.

Figure 1 - A food system approach that adds value

Our research is organised in four themes shown below. Details of our research programmes are available by clicking the theme links:

Running through its main four themes, CFF will use its transdisciplinary CONNECT approach to demonstrate three cross-cutting threads:

  • Nutrition: Research to study changes in nutritional quality of underutilised crop species from production through storage and processing to the consumer will demonstrate the nutritional advantages offered by such crops. It will also provide opportunities for interventions within the food system to enhance potential nutritional benefits. Transdisciplinary research will provide an evidence base for the status of nutrition in communities, and the potential role of currently underutilised crops to enhance food and nutritional security.

  • Biodiversity contributions to the bioeconomy: Growing a diverse range of plants in the traditional ‘gardens’ of Southeast Asia and Africa has many potential advantages both in the production phase (e.g. soil erosion and nutrient cycling) and in the diversity of products available for use (e.g. food, feed and fuel). Transdisciplinary research will quantify and model the social and economic benefits of biodiverse agroecosystems.

  • Human capacity and societal development: Qualitative and quantitative analysis of social and economic factors influencing societal acceptance of underutilised crops and associated products will identify constraints to their wider adoption. Transdisciplinary research will identify social, economic and policy interventions required to address these limitations.
An example of our food system approach is the CONNECT project that followed the fate of Bambara groundnut and Moringa crops from the field to food products supplemented with them.

Click here to view CONNECT video.

Our People


 Prof. George Rothchild, Chair

 Prof. Peter Gregory, Director

 Prof. Sayed Azam Ali, CEO

 Dr. Sean Mayes, Director and Treasurer

 Research Support

 Prof. Peter Gregory

 Rossuraya Abdullah


 Field Operations

 Ooi Gin Teng


 Mohd Fadhil Ahmad



 Gomathy Sethuraman


 Fatin Nadia Muhammad




Email Addresses

 Crop Genetic Resources
  & Field Studies

 Dr Sean Mayes

 Dr Ho Wai Kuan


 Crop Improvement
 & Production

 Dr Sean Mayes

 Dr Chai Hui Hui


  Mohd Khairul Izwan Mohd Hahiree


 Muhammad Zahrulakmal


 Product Development
 & Quality

 Max Herriman


 Giva Kuppusamy


 Dr Maysoun Mustafa


 Advina Julkifle


 Tan Xin Lin


 Hilda Binti Hussin


 Muhammad Zufar Safwan Borsra


 Knowledge Systems

 Dr Ebrahim Jahanshiri

 Eranga Wimalasiri

 Nur Marahaini Mohd Nizar

 Tengku Adhwa Syaherah

 Siti Sarah Mohd Sinin

 Ayman Salama




This strategy is for PHASE TWO of Crops For the Future (CFF)’s development.
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An updated research strategy was published for the period 2018 until 2022 which will facilitate our aim 
to enhance the development and production of currently underutilised crops.

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CFF publications website that you can find online.
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Other Outputs

Forgotten Foods Network
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Research Facilities

The CFF Headquarters (HQ) and its facilities and landscapes have been designed to be iconic, inspiring and in harmony with nature.
Designed by Kumpulan Akitek; the HQ will comply with the Green Building Index (GBI) and will provide green energy efficient and state-of-the-art facilities. The HQ will include three iconic "glulam" enclosed domes to host:
  • Central Administration and Visitor Centre
  • Research Support and Meeting Spaces
  • Laboratories
The Laboratory Dome includes high-quality controlled environment rooms for research on climate change impacts on underutilised crops. Using smart concepts and green technologies, the HQ uses locally-sourced biomaterials to minimise its carbon footprint. The surrounding landscapes and Demonstration Zones, will showcase CFF research programmes and themes. 
Field Research Centre (FRC)
CFF’s Field Research Centre (FRC) provides proof-of-concept transition from a monoculture oil palm plantation to a diversified, sustainable and economically viable field site research facility for underutilised crops and cropping systems. The FRC has laboratories and equipment for field and environmental measurements, offices for field-based staff and students, workshop and storage facilities. These will include laboratories for measuring plant material and related soil, physiological and environmental equipment, cold rooms and a seed store. A secured area of about 8 hectares has been fenced for field experiments.
The FRC will develop research approaches and expertise on experimental management that span crops, cropping systems and traditional disciplinary boundaries. By building multidisciplinary expertise and facilities, the FRC will act as a model for the development of similar field-based research facilities elsewhere, especially in developing regions of the tropics.

CFF-UNMC Doctoral Training Partnership

In 2013, CFF and the University of Nottingham launched the CFFPLUS joint Scholarship Programme - the largest single commitment ever made to support research studentships on underutilised crops.
CFFPLUS provides full or partial funding for over 300 ‘postgraduate years’ of scholarships for PhD and Masters by Research (MRes) students registered at the University of Nottingham on research studies that ‘Provide Links to Underutilised Species’.

In addition to the University of Nottingham, discussions are ongoing with invited national and international universities to join CFFPLUS as founding partners and through which registered students may receive ‘dual-awards’ from the University of Nottingham and approved partner institutions.
All CFFPLUS students can be based in Malaysia, at partner locations where the institution is the degree awarding authority or through split-site arrangements between CFF, UNMC and partner institutions.
The following are key features of the CFFPLUS scheme:
  • Students from all nationalities are eligible for CFFPLUS scholarships. However, a minimum of 10% of the awards will be for students from Africa and the developing countries of the Commonwealth that are eligible for the University of Nottingham’s flagship ‘Developing Solutions’ scheme. These individuals will be recognised as ‘CFF DevSol Scholars’.
  • Prospective students must apply for specific CFFPLUS PhD or MRes studentships that have been selected by the CFFPLUS committee and awarded to successful academic supervisors. The studentships will be advertised through the Schools and Faculties of award winners as well as through the University of Nottingham and CFF websites.
If you'd like to know more, please contact CFFPLUS DTP Manager, Dr Maysoun Mustafa at or visit CFF-UNMC DTP website.
Work With Us
Passionate about underutilised crops and agricultural biodiversity? CFF provides an excellent platform for you to make a real difference to global challenges.
Our team is a diverse mix of international and national professionals with a range of skills. All of us are working towards achieving our vision to be recognised as a world-leader, delivering excellent, innovative research and knowledge on underutilised crops.
  • Researchers
    CFF welcomes talented researchers at all levels: senior researchers, academicians or postdoctoral researchers that specialise in areas related to our research themes and programmes.
    Research Vacancies
  • Operations
    The CFF operations team provides a responsive and integrated infrastructure that supports the advancements of Crops For the Future.
    Operations Vacancies
  • Internships
    CFF takes great pride in mentoring research students. At CFF, students will interact with highly experienced researchers and will engage with its disciplinary activities that span the whole Research Value Chain.
    Internship Positions