Golden rings of pineapple have already started to dry around the edges, fragrant as they soak up the sun’s heat beneath a sheen of clear plastic — on the way to becoming dried fruit.
Fatoumata Cissoko knows this routine of drying pineapple slices well. At 29, she runs a small dried fruit business in West Africa and has already spent three years trying out different drying methods on her parents’ farm in Guinea. She is confident of the entrepreneurial opportunities that are found after harvest — when excess fruit can be processed, dried, stored and sold later at favorable market prices — and she is working to expand her knowledge and share it with more farmers.
“The best thing about agriculture is being able to harvest the fruit of your work,” Cissoko said. “Farmers are happy when I bring them new things, like the possibility of drying their fruits and vegetables that they cannot sell. And that is a great satisfaction for me.”
Leaning into her tuktuk in Siem Reap, Eang Chakriya opens a cooler and takes out fresh wax gourds and other vegetables that have been carefully packed and chilled, showing them to a group of neighbors. Emblazoned on the tuktuk (a kind of motorized rickshaw) are images of farmers and the marketing motto, “Grown Right, Handled Right, Community Right.”
Chakriya sells nutritious vegetables directly to consumers in Cambodia as part of a farmers’ cooperative working with the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Horticulture, led by the University of California, Davis.
The project’s research team is examining incentives that help farmers improve their agriculture practices. The researchers’ hunch is that farmers will adopt conservation agriculture practices (or “Grown Right” practices) if the team also helps them to adopt two other types of profitable practices that will increase their success: improved postharvest handling techniques and novel marketing practices.
The Horticulture Innovation Lab’s newest annual report is fresh off the presses, documenting the program’s accomplishments from October 2015 – October 2016 (FY 2016) as part of the U.S. government’s Feed the Future initiative.
Together with our research partners at universities, government agencies and NGOs, we took important steps this year in improving livelihoods of farmers and their communities through horticulture.
How new innovations and research from the University of California are helping to end global poverty and hunger was the focus of a standing-room-only event recently at UC Davis. Among the participants recognizing these efforts were representatives from the offices of U.S. Representatives John Garamendi, Doris Matsui, Ami Bera, and Mike Thompson.
It’s Feed the Future week, a time to focus on the U.S. government’s global hunger and food security initiative.
Our program is one of 24 Feed the Future Innovation Labs led by university researchers around the United States, and this week our leaders are converging on Washington, D.C., for several different events.
If you can’t make it to the events in Washington, D.C., you can check out some of the activity online with the hashtag #endhunger.
Here at the Horticulture Innovation Lab, we focus our work on how agricultural science can improve food security, improve nutrition, and reduce poverty. Sometimes it’s easy for us to zoom in on the specifics — how to scale up irrigation, how to cool vegetables without electricity, how to grow a disease-resistant tomato plant — and forget about the big picture. So here’s a look at some of the ways we believe the Horticulture Innovation Lab network is helping #endhunger…