Why fruit and vegetable research matters, with updates from our partners around the world
The Trellis Fund, operated by the Horticulture Innovation Lab, connects organizations in developing countries with U.S. graduate students who have agricultural expertise, generating benefits for both the students and the in-country institutions.
Editor’s note: Nick Reitz is a doctoral student in the UC Davis Department of Food Science and Technology, who participated in a Trellis Fund project led by the Methodist University College Ghana. Here Nick shares some details about his trip to Ghana for this project, which focused on food processing for mango farmers. Though Nick did not have previous experience with mangoes, he had a lot of knowledge to share about postharvest practices. Updated Nov. 6: The Horticulture Innovation Lab has extended the deadline for graduate students to apply for 5 new Trellis Fund projects focused on postharvest handling, small-scale processing and food preservation in Africa.
Question: How does your work on this Trellis Fund project fit into your studies and career, as a Food Science grad student?
Nick Reitz: Prior to this project, I knew almost nothing about mangos. However, my background knowledge of postharvest biology and food processing technology mixed with a fair amount of research helped overcome this lack of knowledge. The basic science behind food preservation is the same regardless of what technology is available. If you know the basics, you can find a method and predict what will happen. Adapting my knowledge to the conditions and resources available in Ghana has been one of the most interesting parts of this project so far.
Selected students will travel to Nepal, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda or Ghana while providing agricultural expertise to a local organization and their farming clientele.
Graduate students who are attending four of the Horticulture Innovation Lab’s partner universities — North Carolina State University, the University of Florida, the University of California, Davis, and the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa — are eligible to apply. The deadline for applications is Oct. 27, 2017.
University students work with organizations in developing countries, to help farmers
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.
As a UC Davis graduate student, Lewis works for the Horticulture Innovation Lab as a manager of the Trellis Fund while pursuing dual master’s degrees in International Agricultural Development and Agricultural and Resource Economics, with an emphasis on monitoring and evaluation.
The Horticulture Innovation Lab launched the Trellis Fund in 2011 based on an idea from a graduate student, Peter Shapland, at the University of California, Davis, who identified a key gap in international agricultural funding. One of the main aims of the Trellis Fund is to fill this gap by provide funding to effective local organizations working on horticulture and then matching each funded project with a U.S. graduate student who can act as a consultant, sharing their agricultural expertise with the project. The projects last for approximately 6 months and have covered topics all along the value chain, including seed saving techniques in Zambia and vegetable production in Honduras. Since 2011, the program has completed 47 Trellis projects in 17 countries, with nine new projects recently started in Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, Nepal and Cambodia.
Here are five ways the Trellis Fund aims to generate impact:
1. Building local organizations’ capacity to grow and improve their programs
The Trellis Fund is designed to provide a “trellis” for local organizations to further grow their organizations, building their own capacity to design projects, write grants and work with international donors. For example, each proposal we receive undergoes a rigorous review process, and Continue reading 5 ways Trellis Fund grants generate impact
The Horticulture Innovation Lab invites organizations in developing countries to compete for new Trellis Fund grants up to $4,000 each for 6-month projects, to extend horticultural information to local farmers and stakeholders along fruit or vegetable value chains.
Project proposals may address horticultural crop production, irrigation, plant nutrition, pest management, postharvest practices or marketing issues in relation to fruits and vegetables. Once projects are selected, the Trellis Fund will connect organizations with U.S. graduate students who have related agricultural expertise for project support.
Both new organizations and previously awarded organizations are encouraged to apply. Organizations based in these countries are eligible to apply:
In Africa: Ethiopia, Ghana, Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia
In Latin America and the Caribbean: Guatemala, Haiti and Honduras
In Asia: Bangladesh, Cambodia, Nepal, and Tajikistan