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.
Elizabeth Mitcham, UC Davis scientist, was honored by the American Society for Horticultural Science (ASHS) as its Outstanding International Horticulturist for 2015.
She accepted the award Aug. 4 at the ASHS annual conference in New Orleans. The award recognizes distinguished contributions to horticultural sciences for 10 years or more, with emphasis on international activities and impacts.
At UC Davis, Mitcham is director of both the Horticulture Innovation Lab and Postharvest Technology Center programs. As director of the internationally recognized Postharvest Technology Center, she has helped train professionals from more than 40 countries in how best to care for fruits and vegetables after harvest, to reduce food waste and improve food quality. She has hosted numerous foreign scientists and students in her lab at the UC Davis Department of Plant Sciences, where her research focuses on the regulation of fruit ripening, understanding calcium deficiency disorders, and maintaining fruit quality after harvest.
Mitcham also leads the Horticulture Innovation Lab, which targets fruit and vegetable research in developing countries to reduce poverty and improve nutrition. Her leadership helps build international partnerships between scientists and develop technologies that meet the horticultural needs of smallholder farmers. The program is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development as part of Feed the Future, the U.S. government’s global hunger and food security initiative.