Advocating for horticulture


This presentation, delivered by Fred T. Davies of Texas A&M University, defines horticulture and its benefits from nutrition to aesthetics. Horticultural crops provide health benefits beyond basic nutrition, including protection against disease, increase in performance, and chronic disease prevention, from the vitamins, minerals, micronutrients, and healthy carbohydrates.

The presentation includes the economics of horticulture. Horticulture and niche markets enable crop diversity in a world of commodity crops. Value chains at the local, regional, and export level are an important part of horticulture. Horticulture crops can be profitable for both smallholders and large commercial enterprises, favoring entrepreneurship, especially for small landholders and women, from California to Ghana.

However, there are a number of significant challenges affecting horticulture, including globalization, marketing, labor, environmental issues, urban encroachment, energy, water-usage, consolidation,  economic viability and lack of integrated agricultural extension systems. It poses the question of how to feed nine billion people under new environmental, economic, and political constraints.

Despite these challenges, there are many opportunities for horticulture including consumers’ view of quality and the origin and safety of foods, growth in urban agriculture, and increased interest in food miles, community supported agriculture (CSA), Slow Food, and permaculture. Moreover, opportunities exist in the information and communications technology (ICT) field, from mobile money to providing weather alerts.

Producing higher yield horticultural crops is not enough, as there need to be value-added products. The focus should be shifted from subsistence to commercial small-farming, using a bottom-up, value-chain driven approach.

This presentation was part of the Horticulture Innovation Lab 2014 Annual Meeting, which took place March 17-21, 2014 in Hotel Real Intercontinental, Tegucigalpa, Honduras.