Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Horticulture
Our global research network advances fruit and vegetable innovations, empowering smallholder farmers to earn more income while better nourishing their communities.
Collaborating across borders for research: Our work along the horticulture value chain
The Horticulture Innovation Lab has supported collaborations with more than 200 organizations and universities on projects for smallholder farmers around the world. In the program’s first 9 years, these research teams also trained more than 50,000 individuals, including 18,000 farmers who improved their farming practices.
Most projects include partners from a U.S. university and from an organization in an emerging economy in Africa, Asia or Latin America, according to the U.S. government’s “Feed the Future” global food security strategy. The program’s research projects span the horticultural value chain:
- Seed systems and germplasm
- Sustainable production
- Improving postharvest practices
- Improving food safety
- Improving extension
- Advancing nutrition
Regional Centers as horticultural hubs: Building local capacity, supporting innovation
The Horticulture Innovation Lab supports Regional Centers at local institutions to bring together key players for horticultural development activities in nearby countries.
The program has two active centers at strategic universities — one at the Panamerican Agricultural School, Zamorano, in Honduras and one at Kasetsart University in Thailand.
The centers focus on adapting innovative technologies, training farmers and exchanging information with Horticulture Innovation Lab projects and partners.
Trellis Fund makes new connections: Engaging graduate students in development
In addition to major projects, the Horticulture Innovation Lab has funded dozens of smaller Trellis Fund projects, which pair a U.S. graduate student with an organization in a developing country.
In the first 55 completed Trellis Fund projects, 8,512 participants received training with 230 field demonstration plots and more than 265 training meetings.
Though smallholder farmers are the focus of Trellis Fund projects, the program also builds new relationships with organizations and provides development experience to tomorrow’s agricultural researchers.
About the Program
The Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Horticulture — also known as the Horticulture Innovation Lab — is managed by a team at the University of California, Davis, in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, under the Department of Plant Sciences.
Funding for the Horticulture Innovation Lab is provided by the U.S. Agency for International Development as part of Feed the Future, the U.S. government’s global hunger and food security initiative.
Dr. Elizabeth Mitcham is the director of the Horticulture Innovation Lab. She is also a UC Cooperative Extension postharvest specialist and pomologist at UC Davis.
The program is led by a consortium that also includes the University of Florida, North Carolina State University, and the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.
Since 2014, the Horticulture Innovation Lab has led research projects in Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Nepal, Tajikistan, Guatemala, and Honduras. These projects rely on collaboration between local organizations, research agencies and private companies, with leadership from top researchers at:
- Penn State
- Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey
- Purdue University
- Michigan State University
- University of Wisconsin-Madison
- Kansas State University
- Panamerican Agricultural School, Zamorano
- Kasetsart University
- Agribusiness Associates, Inc.
- Rhino Research
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