How new apricot research can help farmers and reduce poverty in Tajikistan

Apricots offer farmers in southern Tajikistan a profitable opportunity — particularly when dried for export to foreign markets.

In a region where 10 percent of the population lives on less than $1.25 per day, an international team led by U.S. scientists is digging into a new research project to help, advancing the science behind growing, drying, and selling these golden fruits.

Long history, new opportunities for apricot farmers in Tajikistan

Apricots have a long history in Tajikistan, as part of a region that is rich in apricot biodiversity (and potentially where the fruit originated). While apricots are grown widely across the country, farmers in northern Tajikistan in particular have well established commercial production and drying operations. More than 80 percent of Tajikistan’s dried apricots are exported to Russia, the world’s largest importer of dried fruit.

In 2015 a frost in northern Tajikistan presented southern farmers with a new opportunity. The frost prompted processors to look farther afield for apricots — including to farmers in the country’s southwestern Khatlon province, where Continue reading How new apricot research can help farmers and reduce poverty in Tajikistan

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

5 lessons for expanding drip irrigation among smallholder farmers

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

Terry is a UC Davis junior specialist who lives in Guatemala and manages the Horticulture Innovation Lab’s MásRiego project, which promotes drip irrigation and climate resilience in Guatemala’s western highlands.

portrait: Meagan Terry
Meagan Terry, UC Davis junior specialist for the Horticulture Innovation Lab

The name of our project, MásRiego, literally means “more irrigation” in Spanish, but this project boasts more than simply installations of drip irrigation systems. Our project develops and implements a holistic, business-driven solution to result in wider availability of drip irrigation, conservation agriculture, improved water management, and vegetables. These activities are carried out while addressing social inclusion, technical capacity, nutrition, and asset building for all community members, especially women and youth.

Our goal is to convert 100 hectares of land in Guatemala’s western highlands to more efficient means of irrigating and growing vegetable crops, with improved management practices. In addition, we will train thousands of technicians, youth, and farmers on how to use conservation agriculture principles and other agricultural practices that stress climate resilience in the face of changing rainfall and weather patterns. We have identified more than 1,000 potential beneficiaries who are eager to adopt drip irrigation in the 12 municipalities where we are working.

There have been some important lessons learned thus far Continue reading 5 lessons for expanding drip irrigation among smallholder farmers

Meet Archie Jarman: Q&A with Horticulture Innovation Lab’s new program officer

Editor’s note: Archie Jarman joined the Horticulture Innovation Lab team as its new program officer, just in time to participate in the program’s annual meeting in March. He brings a wealth of international experience to this position, which includes coordinating the Horticulture Innovation Lab’s Regional Centers around the globe. Here is a brief interview to introduce you to Archie and his background. We hope you have a chance to meet him soon!

Question: Tell us about your background. How did you come to work for the Horticulture Innovation Lab?

portrait: Robert "Archie" Jarman
Archie Jarman, program officer for the Horticulture Innovation Lab

Archie Jarman: By winding road. I worked for the fire service, which is a great career, and made some lifelong friends, but I had the international travel itch. So I studied International Social Welfare at Columbia University and also interned at the Millennium Villages Project with a focus on whether safety net programs improve childhood nutrition domestically and abroad. After graduating, I then worked at Arcadia Biosciences, Inc., as coordinator and then as project manager with excellent teams for their USAID-funded projects. The projects are aimed at improving the abiotic stress tolerance of rice and wheat in Africa and Southeast Asia and incorporated capacity building. The position at the Horticulture Innovation Lab seemed ideal in that I have strengths that could be beneficial for the program, but it also provided a lot of challenges for me to improve my weaknesses and learn. I am thankful it worked out! Very happy to join the team.

Can you tell us more about the projects and crops you were working with at Arcadia Biosciences?

In Bangladesh we were working with the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) to evaluate transgenic salt tolerant rice for research and incorporated a capacity building component, Continue reading Meet Archie Jarman: Q&A with Horticulture Innovation Lab’s new program officer