For more than 30 years, the Malagasy Institute of Applied Research (IMRA) has been researching the traditional medicines and food plants of Madagascar that, despite being nutritionally and medically valuable, often are overlooked and underused by local people. This case study is about one of IMRA's most interesting and successful projects. Eugenia jambolana Lamark is a species of big tree that grows on the central high plateau and east coast of Madagascar. It is a member of the Myrtaceae family to which myrtles belong. Eugenia jambolana produces small purple plums, called java plums (or rotra in Malagasy), that have a very sweet flavor, turning slightly astringent on the edges of the pulp as the fruit becomes mature. Java plums are rich in sugar, mineral salts, vitamins C and PP (which fortifies the beneficial effects of vitamin C), anthocyans, flavenoids and other useful ingredients. Although Malagasy folk healers have successfully used Eugenia jambolana to relieve the symptoms of diabetes, its full potential has never been exploited. In addition, the fruit could be made into make jams, jellies and health drinks, but a general lack of knowledge and interest exists in collecting, using and preserving java plums. Until IMRA launched its valorization of Eugenia jambolana project in 1970, much of this valuable resource had been ignored and left to go to waste. The project's main aims were, first, to identify ways of using the plant and its fruit and, then, to introduce these techniques and products to the public. Although ways of preserving the fruit to produce a range of tasty and healthy foods were one on the project's outputs, most of the work went towards developing the potential of Eugenia jambolana seeds in the treatment of diabetes and building on the experience and informal findings of centuries of local usage. The result was a commercially produced drug called Madeglucyl®, which has since been widely used by Malagasy diabetes patients. Along the way, scientists worked to find the best ways of collecting the original plant material, which meant training hundreds of rural families to identify the best seeds to pick. Ways of preserving the seeds were another aspect of scientific study. Researchers also concentrated on making this product acceptable and attractive to the country's population. In this effort they were aided by its appeal as a safe, natural drug with no toxic side-effects. Finally, issues of industrial production and commercialization within Madeglucyl® had to be addressed.