Visiting Tanzania: Postharvest Training and Services Center

Editor’s note: As our management team members visit Horticulture Innovation Lab partners and research sites in developing countries, we are sharing with you glimpses into their visits, with travel updates and photos.

Graduate student researcher Elyssa Lewis and I were invited to observe a refresher training course in Arusha, Tanzania, hosted by the World Food Logistics Organization (WFLO) and the TOPS Program.

When we visited, the WFLO was also in the process of evaluating a pilot project that trained experts in postharvest handling of fresh produce and established a Postharvest Training and Services Center in Arusha. This project was originally funded by the Horticulture Innovation Lab and led by Diane Barrett, of UC Davis. As a program officer for the Horticulture Innovation Lab, I work with these researchers and others to evaluate and disseminate their research and new technologies.

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Merius Nzalawahe, right, purchases materials from the store at the Postharvest Training and Services Center, from Odette Ngulu with Tanzania’s Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Cooperatives.

The Postharvest Training and Services Center is so much more than a training center. It aims to combine extension-type services with a sustainable business model. The small store pictured here is open every day to sell plastic packing crates, tree clippers, jars, buckets and other materials that local growers and processors can use to better handle fruits and vegetables after harvest. Continue reading Visiting Tanzania: Postharvest Training and Services Center

14 steps to growing vegetables with conservation agriculture and drip irrigation

Manny Reyes, NC A&T
Manuel Reyes, professor, North Carolina A&T State University

As told by Manuel Reyes, professor in Biological Engineering at North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University:

  1. Manually till and weed a small plot of land (no more than 200 square meters).
  2. Make vegetable beds.
  3. Find a source of mulch for your site. Mulch should not contain seeds and not grow vegetatively.
  4. Cut mulch and let it dry.
  5. Install drip irrigation on the site.
  6. Put dried mulch on the entire area including the furrows between the vegetable beds. Mulch should be at least 2.5 inches thick. Continue reading 14 steps to growing vegetables with conservation agriculture and drip irrigation

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

‘Dry chain’ partnership helps farmers store seed better

A version of this article originally appeared in the Feed the Future newsletter

A partnership between university scientists and a private technology company has sprouted both new concepts and new tools that can help vegetable farmers in developing countries access better seeds.

For many smallholder farmers, buying and trading vegetable seeds can be risky. The benefits of purchasing seed can be high, with improved crop varieties offering disease resistance, increased vigor and improved taste. But the risks of receiving poor-quality seed are also significant, particularly in tropical climates. Seed will deteriorate rapidly if it is not properly dried and stored. The resulting poor germination reduces yields, which for vegetable farmers can mean staggered harvests and inconsistent crop quality.

“If you buy seed and it’s all dead, you aren’t going to buy very much more seed,” says Kent Bradford, seed biologist at the University of California, Davis. “To get improved varieties into farmers’ hands, you must have a system where people can buy and trade seed successfully.” Continue reading ‘Dry chain’ partnership helps farmers store seed better

Newsletter: Projects awarded, email newsletter restarts

We restarted our email newsletter this week. If you’re not a subscriber yet, you’re in luck! Below is a copy of the newsletter, and you can also sign up to subscribe for next time.

Welcome to the new format of our email newsletter! You may remember us as “Hort CRSP,” but we are kicking off our second five-year phase with a new program name, new newsletter and – most importantly – some new projects. As a subscriber, you can expect to get about one email newsletter per month from us, with program updates, horticultural information, and other international development news. Continue reading Newsletter: Projects awarded, email newsletter restarts