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.

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?

MásRiego project starts in Guatemala

Expanding irrigation and climate-smart farming to Guatemala

An international team led by UC Davis is working to connect 9,000 rural households in Guatemala with improved water management and climate-smart agriculture strategies, to increase food security and reduce poverty.

Called MásRiego (“more irrigation”), the project aims to increase farmers’ incomes and their use of climate-smart strategies, including drip irrigation, rainwater harvesting, reduced tillage, mulch use and diverse crop rotation. To enable farmers to adopt these new practices, the team will not only provide trainings but also build partnerships to increase farmers’ access to needed microcredit financing and irrigation equipment.

“The opportunity to impact so many farmers’ lives on this scale is exciting,” said Beth Mitcham, director of the Horticulture Innovation Lab. “We’re taking lessons learned from our previous research — in Guatemala, Honduras and Cambodia — and building a team to help more small-scale farmers apply our findings and successfully use these innovative practices.”

The new project is part of the U.S. government’s Feed the Future initiative. It represents an additional $3.4 million investment in the UC Davis-led Horticulture Innovation Lab by the U.S. Agency for International Development’s mission in Guatemala.

Partnering with UC Davis is an international team with representatives from Centro de Paz Bárbara Ford in Guatemala; Universidad Rafael Landívar in Guatemala; the Panamerican Agricultural School, Zamorano, in Honduras; Kansas State University; and North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. Continue reading MásRiego project starts in Guatemala