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

UC Davis ‘DryCard’ invention wins competition to reduce food loss in Africa

A new invention from UC Davis researchers won a competition as the top emerging technology to reduce food loss and waste across the African continent.

The low-cost tool, called the DryCardTM, shows farmers whether their dried food products are dry enough to store safely, reducing food losses and risks of mold and associated toxins.

The DryCard beat out more than 200 entries to win the grand prize in the “All Africa Postharvest Technologies and Innovation Challenge.” Top technologies and innovations were invited to pitch to an audience of about 600 participants, including private investors and international organizations, at the first All-Africa Postharvest Congress and Exhibition, March 31 in Nairobi, Kenya.

group holding DryCards with prize check
From left, Bertha Mjawa and Elizabeth Mitcham wave DryCards in victory as they accept the grand prize from organizers during the All-Africa Postharvest Technologies and Innovations Challenge. (Horticulture Innovation Lab photo by Erin McGuire/UC Davis)

Elizabeth Mitcham, director of the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Horticulture and a UC Cooperative Extension specialist in postharvest biology for the UC Davis Department of Plant Sciences, represented the DryCard during the competition.

“I have never seen such strong interest in a technology like this,” Continue reading UC Davis ‘DryCard’ invention wins competition to reduce food loss in Africa