UH Manoa student helps with farmers’ first soil tests in Nepal

grad student portrait
Tiare Silvasy, UH Mānoa graduate student who participated in Trellis Fund project in Nepal

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.

Young man pointing to pH strip indicator, with older man looking on, along with other students and Tiare holding the test strips
Silvasy and students from Nepal explain soil test results to a farmer. (Photo by Saroj Khanal)

Tell us about the main work you did on this Trellis Fund project during this trip.

The farmers we met with in Nepal had never had a soil test done and didn’t really know what their soil’s baseline nutrients were. A lot of them are using farmyard manure Continue reading UH Manoa student helps with farmers’ first soil tests in Nepal

Explore international agriculture, at our UC Davis demonstration center

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:

spider plant garden sign surrounded by leaf clusters
Spider plant, growing at the demonstration center, is one of the vegetables that Horticulture Innovation Lab researchers are working with in Africa.
  • spiderplant
  • amaranth
  • cowpea
  • groundnut
  • tree tomato
  • eggplant
  • pumpkin
  • okra

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.

The Horticulture Innovation Lab demonstration center is a chance for UC Davis visitors to take a peek into the global work of the Horticulture Innovation Lab — namely, agricultural research with Continue reading Explore international agriculture, at our UC Davis demonstration center

5 ways relationships promote innovation – and can improve food safety

Editor’s note: This blog post by Karen LeGrand was originally a presentation given at the Horticulture Innovation Lab’s 2017 annual meeting.

LeGrand is a UC Davis researcher who helps manage a Horticulture Innovation Lab project focused on building safe vegetable value chains in Cambodia along with an international team from the Royal University of Agriculture, the University of Battambang and iDE Cambodia. Their team builds on lessons learned from a previous project in Cambodia.

Karen LeGrand, UC Davis
Karen LeGrand, UC Davis researcher working on a Horticulture Innovation Lab project in Cambodia

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.

One example from the first phase of our project was a situation where a marketer wanted to purchase vegetables that were considered “safe” (free of microbiological and chemical hazards). Farmers participated with our research team to conduct trials aimed at identifying appropriate ways to change farming and postharvest practices Continue reading 5 ways relationships promote innovation – and can improve food safety

6 lessons from postharvest loss assessments in Rwanda

Editor’s note: This blog post by Gurbinder Singh Gill was originally a presentation given at the Horticulture Innovation Lab’s 2017 annual meeting.

Gill manages the Horticulture Innovation Lab’s project focused on reducing postharvest losses in Rwanda as the managing associate at Agribusiness Associates, Inc.

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Gurbinder Gill of Agribusiness Associates, leader of a Horticulture Innovation Lab project

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

7 ways that gender matters in western Honduras

Editor’s note: This blog post by Janelle Larson was originally a presentation given at the Horticulture Innovation Lab’s 2017 annual meeting in Guatemala.

Larson is an associate professor in agricultural economics at the Pennsylvania State University and leads the Horticulture Innovation Lab project focused on empowering women through horticulture in Honduras.

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Janelle Larson, Penn State associate professor, who leads a Horticulture Innovation Lab project

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:

  1. 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.

    Young woman and old woman talking in plastic chairs
    Gender matters in household decision making: A Zamorano graduate interviews a woman as part of a survey of more than 500 households in Western Honduras.

Continue reading 7 ways that gender matters in western Honduras