Purdue to examine fresh produce trade with Central America
Purdue University’s College of Agriculture is partnering with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to explore how to boost economic opportunities for the fruit and vegetable trade in Central America, while also examining root causes of migration to the U.S. southern border. The five-year USDA Food for Progress project will focus on El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, the so-called Northern Triangle of Central America.
“This project aims to foster growth in the agricultural sectors of these countries, creating opportunities for the populations most likely to migrate, including youth, women and minority groups,” said Gerald Shively, associate dean and director of International Programs in Agriculture and principal investigator for the project. “Purdue’s contributions in the areas of horticultural production and agricultural risk management draw on deep expertise and experience provided by multiple departments in the College of Agriculture.”
Purdue says its contribution will focus on science- and risk-based sanitary and phytosanitary measures in the horticultural value chains with U.S.
Peter Hirst, who is a professor in the Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture and assistant director of International Programs in Agriculture Purdue Professor, says Guatemala is a well-established supplier of off-season vegetables and berries to the U.S. market.
“Opening new doors to collaborate with universities in the region is a major motivation for us,” said Hirst. “The project will also provide long-run benefits to consumers here at home. This work will help to improve the safety of the foods we purchase.”
Purdue says the project team will primarily work with private sector partners and various Central American government offices, including ministries of agriculture and departments of plant and animal health.
While the U.S. seeks to increase imports of fresh produce, it also needs to protect domestic crops from invasive plants and pests.
“One exciting opportunity is the chance to develop and improve technologies for more rapid pest detection and identification,” according to Christian Cruz, professor in the Department of Botany and Plant Pathology and a co-principal investigator. “Innovations in this area are important not only for the region in which we will be working but also for identifying and controlling pests and diseases here in Indiana.”