Newsletter: New dryness indicator, updates & opportunities

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We have been busy planting seeds and harvesting success, and hope your recent efforts have been fruitful too! Without further ado, here are the freshest updates from our network.


DRYCARD: NEW, LOW-COST TOOL INDICATES DRYNESS IN FOOD PRODUCTS How do you see dryness? It can be difficult to know when food is dry enough to store safely, to reduce postharvest losses and the risks of mold growth and associated toxins. Horticulture Innovation Lab researchers Michael Reid and Jim Thompson of UC Davis invented a low-cost, easy-to-use tool called the DryCard(TM) which indicates whether food is dry enough to be stored safely.

The DryCard incorporates a strip of cobalt chloride paper that changes color based on humidity, a color guide and directions. With a DryCard and an airtight container, farmers can easily test a sample of their product for dryness in 20-30 minutes. The DryCard is reusable as long as it is stored safely away from water.

Read more about the story behind inventing the DryCard:

… AND IT WINS ALL-AFRICA INNOVATION CHALLENGE In March, the DryCard beat out more than 200 entries to win the grand prize in the All-Africa Postharvest Technologies and Innovation Challenge, at the first All-Africa Postharvest Congress and Exhibition in Nairobi. During the challenge, the DryCard and other innovations were pitched to an audience of about 600, including private investors and international organizations.

“I have never seen such strong interest in a technology,” said Elizabeth Mitcham, Horticulture Innovation Lab director, who represented the DryCard during the competition along with Bertha Mjawa of Tanzania.

“My hope is that we will find entrepreneurs and donors to help us spread this technology, so that every farmer who dries produce has access to it,” she said.

Read about the DryCard winning the competition to reduce food losses in Africa:

For more information about the DryCard and to sign-up for updates:


*** IN THE NEWS ***

PODCAST INTERVIEW ABOUT IRRIGATION IN UGANDA Abraham Salomon, a UC Davis researcher based in Uganda, was interviewed by Michigan State University’s Food Fix podcast about his work with community-driven irrigation innovation:

BRADFORD TEAM PUBLISHES JOURNAL ARTICLE In Agricultural & Environmental Letters, Kent Bradford of UC Davis is the lead author on a paper proposing the use of relative humidity indicator paper to measure seed moisture content. Highlighted in the magazine for Crops, Soils and Agronomy News:

RUTGERS RELEASES NEW HOT PEPPER VARIETY Jim Simon of Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, was featured in news announcing the “pumpkin habanero,” a result of cross-breeding African and Mexican pepper varieties:



MEET OUR NEW PROGRAM OFFICER Archie Jarman joined the Horticulture Innovation Lab management team at UC Davis in March, and we have a short Q&A blog post to introduce you:

CONGRATULATIONS TO MARK BELL … who was recently welcomed to a new position with the University of California’s Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources as its Vice Provost of Statewide Programs and Strategic Initiatives. We will miss Mark, who has been an integral member of our management team as leader of information management, since the beginning of our program. We wish him well in his new position:

STUDENTS BEGIN WORK WITH TRELLIS FUND PROJECTS Students from North Carolina State University, University of Florida, University of Hawai’i at Manoa and UC Davis have been selected and started working on Trellis Fund projects in Ghana, Uganda, Kenya, Nepal and Cambodia. Learn more about these students and the ongoing projects:



EVENT: MEETING DIETARY NEEDS WITH FRUITS, VEGETABLES June 2-3 will be a workshop at UC Davis focused on “Aligning the Food System to Meet Dietary Needs: Fruits and Vegetables” with national and international leaders speaking on nutrition, policy and food systems. The Horticulture Innovation Lab is a co-sponsor of this event organized by the UC Davis World Food Center:

EVENT: AIARD CONFERENCE IN WASHINGTON, D.C. June 4-6 will be the annual conference for the Association for International Agriculture and Rural Development:

FUNDING: AFRICAN-EUROPEAN COLLABORATIONS June 15 is the deadline to submit a preliminary proposal to LEAP-Agri for collaborative research between African and European partners on sustainable agriculture, aquaculture, food security and nutrition security:



ALIGNING RESEARCH INVESTMENTS IN GLOBAL FOOD SECURITY USAID and the Board for International Food and Agricultural Development hosted a 3-day online discussion on research needs related to agriculture-led economic growth, nutrition and resilience. Resources, including key takeaways:

NEW NUTRITION-SENSITIVE AGRICULTURE TOOLKIT The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has a new online toolkit and e-learning module with information on how to design, implement and evaluate nutrition-sensitive food and agriculture policies and programs:

REPORT ON GENDER RELATIONS IN HOME GARDENING The World Vegetable Center has a new report about “Understanding gender and power relations in home garden activities” in relation to the program’s work with vegetable seed kits and home gardening in Cambodia:


***THANK YOU FOR READING! Stay tuned for our next newsletter, which will feature our upcoming “5-Minute Lesson” blog post series, from some of our network’s top researchers. Until then, you can connect with us on Twitter @HortInnovLab, by email at or on our blog:

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