Building trust in food systems – here and in Cambodia

A version of this article originally appeared in the UC ANR Food Blog.

What is the role of trust in our food system? In the United States, our trust in food is often implicit. We can generally trust that the fruits and vegetables we buy at a grocery store or farmers market are safe to eat — and we are often free to shop without even thinking about that trust.

Between farmers and agricultural scientists too, trust often plays an important role. If you’re a farmer, you need to be able to trust that investing your time or money in a new technique or in attending a workshop will indeed improve your business.

But it can be easy to forget that trust is a critical first step in many of these agricultural relationships.

In a vegetable field, Thort holds open the net door of a net house, with someone standing inside among the vegetable rows
Thort Chuong (now a Fulbright scholar and UC Davis grad student) welcomes us into a nethouse in Cambodia, owned by a farmer who tried it after joining a savings group and hearing about this new way he could grow vegetables without spraying pesticides. Karen LeGrand of UC Davis stands inside, among the leafy green seedlings in the nethouse. 

Establishing trust between actors in a food system has been critical for a Horticulture Innovation Lab project in Cambodia, focused on Continue reading Building trust in food systems – here and in Cambodia

New report on horticulture in Guinea, after Ebola

In the wake of the Ebola outbreak, the Horticulture Innovation Lab was asked to evaluate fruit and vegetable production in Guinea, as part of the U.S. Agency for International Development’s ongoing response in the region.

Over several months, the Horticulture Innovation Lab’s team combined a desk study, interviews, and surveys of farmers, village leaders and market traders into a “rapid assessment.”

Report cover of USAID horticulture with Guinean farmer photo
The report, “Rapid Assessment of Horticulture in Guinea” is now available online.

The report, “Rapid Assessment of the Horticulture Sector in Guinea” is now available online and identifies constraints to improving horticultural production at household and commercial levels in Guinea, along with specific recommendations for improvements. It is intended to provide guidance to USAID and the U.S. government’s Feed the Future initiative, for investments in Guinea’s agriculture.

“We tried not to give the USAID mission in Guinea a list of things that says, ‘Everything is broken,’” said Amanda Crump, associate director of the Horticulture Innovation Lab and one of the authors. “Instead we provided a list that is doable, makes sense in the context of Guinea specifically, and identifies where to start for greater impact.”

The assessment’s recommendations are Continue reading New report on horticulture in Guinea, after Ebola