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Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Collaborative Research on Horticulture

Delivering Vegetable Safety Education through Established Social Networks in Latin America

Target Country: Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua

Principal Investigator: Jeffrey LeJeune, The Ohio State University


Project Description

Contamination of vegetables with foodborne pathogens and spoilage organisms results in foodborne illness and economic losses. This problem is worldwide, but is particularly serious in Central American countries that are already fighting problems due to poor nutrition and poverty. Despite the potential magnitude of the problem, small-scale Latin American farmers are generally unaware of these hazards and losses and how these risks can be prevented. The lack of awareness of these risks (and potential benefits realized by their control) complicates communication efforts on the subject and hinders the sustained adoption of safe agricultural practices in horticultural production.

This project hypothesizes that established social networks will provide an effective and efficient venue to communicate vegetable microbial contamination information and promote management changes to improve produce safety and quality. We will test this hypothesis using several social networks (greenhouse associations, organic production associations, health clinics, schools, and traditional extension outreach programing) to communicate food safety and quality messages. These networks are particularly relevant as they are expected to include a large proportion of female farmers. Increases in awareness among farming communities in Honduras, Guatemala, and Nicaragua will be measured. Successful pathways of communication will be expanded and adoption of food safety practices assessed.

At the completion of these participatory research and outreach activities, several tangible goals will be accomplished:

These methods can then be applied to communicate other important information to enhance crop production, microfinance, or additional nutritional education.

Project updates: