The Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis has announced it is expanding its international crop research efforts through a newly formed institute.  

Director Paul Anderson of the institute for international crop improvement says the expansion is an effort to take technology that’s developed at the Danforth center and turn it into improved products that can have an impact in developing countries.

Anderson also says the center works on crops known as “orphan crops” which are important for food security in developing countries. “There are not a lot of resources being put into their improvement and there certainly aren’t many resources in the area of advanced technology put into their improvement, so although these crops are very important for small farmers in developing countries, their improvement of their productivity and their quality has been slow,” he says.

Anderson says the program is trying to fill a gap by accelerating that improvement in productivity for those crops and will help small farmers that have been seeing dry climate as a result of climate change over the past few years.

He says the aim is to bring improved crops that have a greater source of nutrients and are resistant to disease and drought to small farmers in developing countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America and would also like to expand the common bean crops in areas such as East Africa, which has a good source of protein.

“We work on crops that are generally referred to as ‘orphan crops.’ The crops are very important for food security in developing countries, however, there are not a lot of resources being put into their improvement,” he says.

The Center is working to advance its mission to “improve the human condition through plant science.”

 AUDIO: Mary Farucci reports. (1:02)