Editor’s note: Tiare Silvasy is a master’s student in Tropical Plant and Soil Sciences at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa who participated in a Trellis Fund project led by the Center for Agricultural Research and Development (CARD-Nepal). She recently returned from a trip to Nepal to work on this project, which focused on soil testing and nutrient management for smallholder farmers — many of whom had never had a soil test before. Here’s a Q&A with highlights from her trip.
Question: How does your work on this Trellis Fund project fit into your studies and career?
Tiare Silvasy: In Hawaii, my thesis is on nutrient management and I’m looking at local organic fertilizers, specifically at meat and bone meal, produced locally here from the islands’ fish and meat wastes. We’re looking at using those local materials on our farmer’s fields, instead of importing fertilizer products. Meat and bone meal contain a relatively high amount of nitrogen for an organic fertilizer.
Tell us about the main work you did on this Trellis Fund project during this trip.
Now is a great time to drop by the Horticulture Innovation Lab’s demonstration center, to check out thriving young vegetables plants that are more commonly grown in Africa and Asia.
One of the garden beds is home to vegetable seedlings that are grown in Africa, sometimes called African indigenous vegetables. These include varieties of:
Spiderplant and amaranth in particular are two of the leafy African vegetables that Horticulture Innovation Lab researchers are working with in Kenya and Zambia, in efforts to improve nutrition and better understand the connection between farmers who grow these nutritious vegetables and people who eat them.
What do relationships have to do with innovation and food safety? Our project is built on the idea that when we focus our work around the shared interests of a community, it can bring people together in participatory ways that result in innovation and sustainable change.
Postharvest losses in African agriculture are often estimated at about 30-40 percent. The Horticulture Innovation Lab’s latest project in Rwanda set out to reduce postharvest losses in horticulture last year. Our first step was to conduct in-depth field work to understand the main causes and stages at which postharvest losses occurred in our four focus crops — tomatoes, green chilies, green bananas and orange fleshed sweet potatoes. We set out to understand the issues from three perspectives: Continue reading 6 lessons from postharvest loss assessments in Rwanda
Gender norms define the roles and responsibilities of women and men at the individual, household, community and societal level. We have found this to be a factor in western Honduras where patriarchy permeates many aspects of life.
Our findings indicate how gender norms influence and pervade seven different key aspects related to our project:
Gender matters in agriculture In agriculture production, women’s work is often unrecognized and under compensated. Women’s participation in production — mostly in harvesting and the processing phases of high-value crop chains — is relatively large. According to our household survey conducted in 2016, nearly 20 percent of women in our study area work as day laborers, often for coffee harvest, and approximately 6 percent of women work in their family fields. Women are also heavily involved in home garden production. They are responsible for approximately 54 percent of the activities of home garden production, which is mostly for home consumption.