The Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Horticulture will work with and promote local leadership in communities across the globe to advance horticultural and social innovations for nutritional and financial security. This competitive five-year program was first awarded to UC Davis in 2009 and renewed in 2014.
UC Davis will be joined in a consortium with Florida A&M University, Michigan State University, Texas A&M and World Vegetable Center, along with subject matter experts from Penn State University and Making Cents International, to help manage this program.
The Horticulture Innovation Lab will focus their efforts in West Africa, East Africa, South/Southeast Asia and Central America. At the forefront of their research will be the development of environmentally sustainable, market-oriented production and post-harvest handling methods that provide smallholder farmers and other stakeholders in fruit and vegetable value chains more income, as well as improved access to fruits and vegetables to better nourish their families and communities.
Within the UC Davis-led consortium are partners and specialists with expertise in horticulture, agronomics, agri-sociology, agribusiness and agri-policy. The Horticulture Innovation Lab will convene these global, regional and local experts to determine research needs in each geographical area. Once these research needs are defined, the team will emphasize a holistic, locally led approach to build community resilience and to support inclusivity.
As a direct result of the Horticulture Innovation Lab’s work, more than 750 horticultural technologies are now available for transfer and scaling in communities across the globe. More than 32,000 farmers are applying or using these technologies as a result of the lab and its network’s collective work, and more than 13,000 hectares of land are under new management practices.
The Horticulture Innovation Lab produced a number of innovative technologies, including a chimney solar dryer that more efficiently dries and preserves fruits and vegetables for long-term storage, and a simple tool called the DryCard that lets farmers know if food is safe for dry storage. Additionally, researchers facilitated the adoption of improved agricultural methods, such as drip irrigation in Guatemala, and conservation agriculture for vegetable production and a packinghouse in Cambodia, that led to climate and social resilience.