Maureen Mecozzi, Dyno Keatinge 2015-02-23 23:27:44
If basic sustenance was the goal of agriculture in the past, improved nutrition must be an equivalent priority for the future. The World Vegetable Center seeks to overcome malnutrition and poverty and facilitate good health in the rural and urban poor by increasing the production, quality, consumption, and profitability of nutritious vegetables. We promote good agricultural practices, work with partners to create opportunities for employment, and emphasize effective postharvest value addition and marketing mechanisms. The World Vegetable Center is the only not-for-profit international agricultural research center that has a worldwide and exclusive mandate for vegetable research and development. Founded in 1971 as the Asian Vegetable Research and Development Center (AVRDC), the Center’s global operations now cover sub- Saharan Africa, East and Southeast Asia, South Asia, Central and West Asia and North Africa, Oceania, and Central America. Agronomic practices that conserve water and protect crops and effective integrated pest management packages are disseminated to farmers in the developing world. To reduce food losses, the Center researches methods to maintain postharvest quality all along the vegetable value chain. Vegetable species with tolerance to flooding, drought, heat, and other environmental stresses, and with the ability to maintain yields in more marginal environments, are identified to serve as sources for public and private vegetable breeding programs. The Center also seeks out suitable germplasm capable of thriving under conditions of climatic uncertainty. AVRDC plant breeders focus on open- and self-pollinated vegetable crops. We select global and traditional vegetables with enhanced nutrient density and production characteristics appropriate for small-scale producers. The Center encourages diversity in vegetable cropping to reduce farmers’ risk and increase their resilience. Furthermore, we promote wide diversity in diets—an important component of a healthy life. The AVRDC Genebank is the world’s premier collection of tropical and subtropical vegetable genetic resources in the public domain; its seed, knowledge, and information are accessible to all. The Center places vegetable germplasm with new, desirable traits such as resistance to viruses, fungal and bacterial diseases, and insects in the public domain under the auspices of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA), thus ensuring access for both the public and private sectors. The Center produces seed kits of well-adapted, nutritious vegetables appropriate for households, schools, prisons, and hospital gardens for people to grow their own crops. Having access to own-grown vegetables throughout the year is especially beneficial for women, children, and the elderly, who are most in need of the nutrients that vegetables supply. The Center’s home garden kits kick-start entrepreneurship on a small scale, and they can be the first step for families to grow themselves out of poverty. The kits are also provided to disaster victims through relief agencies. With goodquality seed, victims of natural disasters can grow vegetables on small areas of land and thus quickly add nutrients to their diet. Over the past 40 years, AVRDC has trained many thousands of NARES, NGO, and private sector personnel, and we will continue this training in the future. A substantial number of agricultural and horticultural scientists, nutritionists, crop protection specialists, and development practitioners will receive training tailored to their disciplines and locales, and the public sector capacity for plant breeding and seed production will be increased and made more functional worldwide. Integrated action in research, capacity development, and positive policy creation to deliver sustainable agricultural intensification at the landscape scale is required if food and nutritional security is to be attained through smallholder agriculture and other rural enterprises. Farmers, extension systems, universities and national research institutes, NGOs, the private sector, and international agencies such as the United Nations FAO, the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), and the Association of International Research and Development Centers for Agriculture (AIRCA) need to work together to help communities move from poverty to prosperity. Most importantly, we need to get away from the simplistic “Green Revolution” way of thinking and ensure that all dimensions of agricultural research and development receive appropriate, balanced, and stable investment. The old policy of allocating the lion’s share of resources principally to staple cereals must change to encompass a broader spectrum of crops and to reflect our deeper understanding of the role of nutrition in health. In addition, all scientific disciplines require support, even those that may be less popular than the currently favored biotechnologies. More emphasis is needed on applied disciplines, such as plant breeding, agronomy, pest management, and home economics, now and into the future. Managing to feed the world in 2050 is one thing; however, if we fail to nourish it at the same time, we will have placed the well-being of a large proportion of the world’s population at significant risk of sub-optimal health and reduced quality of life. We must seek to abolish not only hunger, but malnutrition as well. Maureen Mecozzi, Head of Communications, and Dyno Keatinge, Director General, AVRDC—The World Vegetable Center, Shanhua, Taiwan; Maureen.Mecozzi@worldveg. org and Dyno.Keatinge@worldveg.org. Top photo Danymages | Dreamstime. Mid-page photo courtesy of AVRDC—The World Vegetable Center.
Published by ASABE. View All Articles.