Directors of regional horticulture centers gather in Thailand

Before the Horticulture Innovation Lab’s annual meeting in Cambodia, the directors of our regional centers met up at Kasetsart University, in Bangkok, Thailand.

Our host Poon Kasemsap of Kasetsart University welcomed Julio Lopez from the Panamerican Agricultural School, Zamorano, in Honduras and Emil VanWyk from AgriSmart Zambia (our newest director, of a future center) for two days of site visits and project updates.

Since this was the first chance that our directors have had to visit Kasetsart University and the Horticulture Innovation Lab Regional Center there, we spent the first day touring the lab and field facilities.

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Julio Lopez of Zamorano (left) discusses edible wax coating with Apita Bunsiri (right) in the postharvest lab at Kasetsart University.

The postharvest lab at Kasetsart University is designing novel packaging and coatings for fresh-cut and whole fruits and vegetables. Continue reading Directors of regional horticulture centers gather in Thailand

Thailand: Visiting Kasetsart University

In November, I  visited Kasetsart University and toured the Horticulture Innovation Lab Regional Center there and also the World Vegetable Center (AVRDC) demonstration garden nearby. It was great to see the new, central location of the Regional Center that showcases small-scale horticultural technologies.

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Students at Kasetsart University were using the technologies in their class. Sliced bananas were drying in the chimney solar dryer (see above), next to a demonstration of solar-powered drip irrigation. Also on the site were Continue reading Thailand: Visiting Kasetsart University

Training new postharvest experts in Bangladesh

A team from the Horticulture Innovation Lab recently led eight days of training in Bangladesh about improving postharvest practices for fruits, vegetables, grains and flowers. The residential training was part of the Feed the Future Bangladesh Agricultural Value Chain project led by Development Alternatives Incorporated (DAI) with funding from USAID/Bangladesh. The workshop’s audience was about 30 trainers, consultants, and other industry leaders in agriculture and food companies who wanted to learn how to reduce food losses and improve food quality across the value chain.

International team customizes training for local crops

The training focused on many of the most common horticultural crops in Bangladesh: eggplant (brinjal), tomato, pepper, cucumber, pumpkin, bitter gourd, pointed gourd, bottle gourd, potato, and mango. Additional sections of the training focused on grains, pulses and fresh-cut flowers.

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Amrita Mukherjee of UC Davis discusses harvesting practices for pointed gourd, during the group’s field trip to a farmer’s field.

Nearly every day began with members of the team going to local vegetable markets to buy sample produce for class activities. Without refrigeration in the hotel, fresh produce went bad quickly. On the second day of training, the whole class visited a farmer’s field to discuss best practices for harvest and to pick their own unblemished samples of eggplant, amaranth leaves and pointed gourd for the day’s demonstrations.

UC Davis postharvest specialists built an international team of experts for this training, including: Jingtair Siriphanich, Kietsuda Luengwilai, and Apita Bunsiri from Kasetsart University in Thailand; Md. Atiqur Rahmn from the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI); and Md. Younus Ali from the Bangladesh Jute Research Institute (BJRI). Michael Reid, Angelos Deltsidis, and Britta Hansen led the team from UC Davis, and were joined by Bangladeshi colleagues Amrita Mukherjee and Rezaul Islam.

The UC Davis team also brought an assortment of Continue reading Training new postharvest experts in Bangladesh

Agricultural innovations at Kasetsart University, in SciDev.Net video

A video from SciDev.Net explores agriculture technologies at Kasetsart University in Thailand, aimed at the needs of smallholder farmers of horticultural crops.

The audio slideshow, “Simple agricultural innovation to empower farmers,” takes a closer look at several low-cost farming tools, including:

  • a cold room with a CoolBot for cooling fruits and vegetables after harvest
  • two solar dryers, including the UC Davis chimney dryer for drying produce
  • a solar-powered pump with drip irrigation system

Reporter Giovanni Ortolani interviewed Poonpipope Kasemsap, professor at Kasetart University, whose comments provide narration for most of the video.

“A lot of things can be done with a small investment, with innovations, in order to help the farmers so that they can live better lives,” Kasemsap says in the video. Continue reading Agricultural innovations at Kasetsart University, in SciDev.Net video

How drying beads work, in a new SciDev.Net video

Reporter Giovanni Ortolani visited with Horticulture Innovation Lab partners in Bangkok, Thailand, recently to learn about how farmers in humid climates can better save seed using drying beads. His video (below) and article “How seed-drying beads can empower farmers in the tropics” were published this week on SciDev.Net, a news website focused on science and technology for global development.

When stored in hot, humid conditions, vegetable seed deteriorates rapidly — lowering germination rates and farmers’ yields. Ortolani interviewed Patcharin Taridno, senior manager of seed technology with Rhino Research, about how the company’s zeolite-based “drying beads” can help farmers better dry seeds for storage by reducing relative humidity. Continue reading How drying beads work, in a new SciDev.Net video