New project combines vegetables and livestock in Cambodian farming

A version of this article first appeared on the UC Davis One Health blog

New research supported by the Horticulture Innovation Lab at UC Davis aims to help farmers in Cambodia better integrate growing vegetables, raising livestock and maintaining healthy soil — all in the same place.

“By understanding the interactions between horticulture and livestock systems, we can help farmers make better use of agricultural inputs such as fertilizer and labor, which will help improve a farmer’s bottom line,” says Erin McGuire, associate director of the program, which is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development.

“Systems thinking” is critical to making a real-world impact in global food security, according to Jessie Vipham, project leader for the new $750,000 project and assistant professor at Kansas State University’s Sustainable Intensification Innovation Lab.

“Too often overlooked is that systems piece, the very fact that these things — crops and livestock, soil health and human health — play together. Continue reading New project combines vegetables and livestock in Cambodian farming

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

TakePart photo essay explores climate resilience with farmers in Guatemala

Photojournalist Martin do Nascimento recently traveled to Guatemala’s Western Highlands to explore the Horticulture Innovation Lab’s new project helping farmers use climate-smart agricultural practices for growing vegetables.

His photo essay was published in the digital magazine TakePart, called “See the Simple Way These Farmers Are Outsmarting Climate Change.”

The essay shows us this story in beautiful, sweeping photos. Here is how Nascimento introduces his story:

“For many, the term ‘climate change’ brings to mind the image of a polar bear on a shrinking sheet of ice somewhere far off in the Arctic.

“Consider another image: A tired farmer looks out fearfully over a craggy field and wonders how he’ll grow the crops to keep his family fed.

“Pedro Esteban is that farmer, and to him, climate change is no abstraction. Continue reading TakePart photo essay explores climate resilience with farmers in Guatemala

Highlighting horticultural success in 2016

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.

publication cover with Feed the Future logo for Horticulture Innovation Lab's annual report FY 2016
Read more about the Horticulture Innovation Lab in its 2015-2016 Annual Report (PDF).

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.

We welcome you to read about the knowledge and impact the Horticulture Innovation Lab generated this year on behalf of small-scale farmers in horticulture. Highlights include:  Continue reading Highlighting horticultural success in 2016

Feed the Future week: How can we #endhunger?

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.

"We can #endhunger by __________" Feed the Future

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…

 

photo with American student and Bangladeshi scientist with text

Working across borders to improve agriculture

The nature of our program is collaborative research, which means we bring together scientists from U.S. universities with scientists, government Continue reading Feed the Future week: How can we #endhunger?