Food Plant Solutions

The  Project

 One of the solutions to malnutrition in the world’s population is as simple as growing the right food plants in the right places. Enabling people to achieve this is the goal of the Food Plant Solutions project.​

The Food Plant Solutions project is based on the life’s work of Tasmanian agricultural scientist, Bruce French, who has comprehensively documented information on the food plants of the world. The food plants database  developed by Bruce contains over 24,000 food plants. It includes descriptions of the origin of food plants,  growing methods, photos, drawings of the plant and edible parts of the plants, and cooking methods.

In June 2007, Rotary and Food Plants International established the Learn Grow project to provide information to people in developing countries to grow the most nutritious and viable food plants in their environment. 

Many of these food plants from​ the local environment are nutritionally far superior to exotic food plants and generally give a more stable food supply, due to better adaptation to local weather conditions and greater  resistance to local pests and diseases.

The food plants database that Bruce French has developed, and which underpins the Learn Grow Project, is an outstanding achievement of global significance.


Getting the relevant information contained in the food plants database to those who need it is a steep challenge. Rotary, with its global networks and its strong humanitarian concerns, is well positioned to tackle this challenge.

The aim of the project is to develop strategies to deliver the information in the food plants database to countries most in need. The Learn Grow project committee has identified three countries in which to conduct pilot projects – the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea and the Philippines.

The Need

Traditional and emergency responses to malnutrition in the human population have failed to come up with permanent solutions to malnutrition.  In developing countries, seven million children die each year from malnutrition.

An alternative approach is needed to address malnutrition around the globe. Learn♦Grow is a visionary approach to malnutrition – to grow the best local foods to meet nutritional needs.

​The Advantages

Learn Grow empowers people in developing countries to harness local food plant resources to feed themselves and their families.  No costly equipment or structural improvements are required to get people switched onto to the advantages of growing local food plants including:

•    greater production​
•    better adaptation to local conditions – soil type, rainfall, temperature​
•    better resistance to pests and diseases, hence lower costs for pesticides​
•    simpler growing requirements, no need for extensive areas cleared for monoculture cultivation​
•    better nutritional quality of local food plants

Bruce French has documented that local food crops are frequently nutritionally superior to exotic food crops.  Nutrient levels in local food crops can be dramatically better than in exotic food plants.

The main obstacle to local people taking advantage of local food plants is the lack of knowledge to cultivate them.  Learn◊Grow is focused on imparting this knowledge to people in developing countries.

At a national economy level in developing countries, switching over to growing local food crops from growing exotic food crops or importing foodstuffs can insulate the national economy from the shocks of rising world food prices or oil based products e.g. fertilisers and pesticides.  Rising prices for imported foodstuffs e.g. rice means less money for essential services like health and education.  Indirect costs like the costs of shipping can also push up the price of imported foodstuffs.