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Impacts Achieved via the Horticulture Innovation Lab

Friday, August 7, 2015: 11:15 AM
Bayside B (Sheraton Hotel New Orleans)
Elizabeth Mitcham, Ph.D. , University of California Davis, Davis, CA
Investment in horticulture for development programs is important because of the close link between poverty and hunger and malnutrition. Horticultural development offers the opportunity to meet food needs and improve nutrition and health in the developing world, while providing prospects for income diversification and economic advancement of the rural poor. In addition, women are, in many regions, the main producers and marketers of horticultural crops, so increased horticultural production often leads to an improved income stream for women and their children. Typically, horticultural crops are both highly nutritious and economically valuable.  Horticultural research is crucial to enable small-scale producers to overcome agronomic market barriers and realize the benefits offered by horticultural development.  In its first five years, the Horticulture Innovation Lab funded 61 projects in more than 30 countries. These projects ranged from six-month Trellis projects, which paired graduate students with developing country organizations, to three-year, multi-country comprehensive projects, which addressed bottlenecks throughout an entire value chain. Projects involved 18 U.S. public universities and more than 200 universities and organizations in the developing world.  As the Horticulture Innovation Lab starts a new five-year program phase, we reflect on the impacts of phase one and plan for the next five years.  Research has been funded to improve seed drying and storage, evaluate vegetable varieties, test conservation agriculture for vegetables, improve small scale irrigation systems, test insect barrier nets, test improved postharvest handling practices, and develop market linkages for resource poor farmers.  Smallholder farmers and particularly women farmers have been educated and empowered.  The Horticultural Innovation Lab has built collaboration not only through projects, but also through the development of Regional Centers and one Postharvest Training and Services Center. The Regional Centers, located in Honduras and Thailand, serve as hubs that connect researchers, students, and organizations in their areas. The Centers also test horticultural technologies and host workshops and trainings. The Postharvest Training and Services Center (PTSC), located in Arusha, Tanzania, also provided resources and trainings for local growers.  In the new Phase of the Horticulture Innovation Lab, we will fund significant projects on gender, nutrition and postharvest, and will work to scale promising technologies by promoting their adoption by farmers.  New project foci will also be developed in the coming years.