1980: The Center’s first nutritionist is hired to develop home gardens. Studies in the early ‘80s demonstrated that a 4 m x 4 m garden plot could produce enough vegetables to provide a family of five with the daily requirement of vitamins A and C and a significant percentage of calcium, iron and protein.
1980: “We at AVRDC recognize the importance of staple crops, but also recognize that the quality of life for the malnourished can be greatly improved by the increased intake of the proteins, vitamins and minerals that vegetables provide. Integrated crop production involving both staple crops and vegetables not only increases the nutritional diversity of the food produced, but also increases the quantity produced per unit area, an important goal for any country deficient in foodstuffs.” — G.W. Selleck, Director
1981: The International Board for Plant Genetic Resources provides financial assistance to help AVRDC multiply and characterize its Chinese cabbage collection.
1981: Five new crops added to the Center’s research portfolio for their nutritive value and potential to increase farmer incomes: cauliflower, mustard greens, radish, snap bean, and pepper.
1982: An outreach program is launched in Thailand, to serve as a training base for Southeast Asia.
1982: Global energy shortages prompt an interest in gasohol—fuel alcohol made from starchy crops like sweet potato. AVRDC scientists, researching the nutritious tuber and leaves, would rather see food crops put on the table than into people’s gas tanks. “If sweet potato is being processed for alcohol, it means that somebody is not eating it.” — Centerpoint newsletter.
1983: The first trainees from Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nepal, Somalia, France and West Germany were among the 90 scholars from 17 countries that participated in AVRDC’s training programs.
1983: The Center marks a decade of service to tropical agriculture in November. The genebank collection stands at 21,445 accessions.
1984: More than 700 commercial vegetable varieties were tested over a three-year period at AVRDC for their suitability for tropical production. The screening identified promising varieties for immediate use by national programs, and the data researchers collected proved useful in the Center’s future crop selections.
1984: A new 1344-square-meter genebank is constructed at AVRDC headquarters, tripling the Center’s seed cold-storage capacity.
1985: The International Board for Plant Genetic Resources invites AVRDC to join its Register of Genebanks.
1986: Pepper (Capsicum spp.) becomes the Center’s sixth principal crop, joining Chinese cabbage, mungbean, tomato, soybean and sweet potato.
1987: In field trials, amaranth, Malabar spinach, yard-long bean and kangkong prove to be excellent choices for nutrition garden programs.
1987: The Center hosts the Second International Symposium of Mungbean in Bangkok, attracting 260 scientists from 30 countries to discuss the latest developments in research on this nutritious and versatile crop.
1988: A simple to construct, labor-saving soybean pod stripper is introduced by AVRDC. More than 20 years later, the design is still in demand.
1988: During a fall Production Training Course at AVRDC headquarters, 26 participants each tended their own 6 x 10 m plot, growing peppers, soybean, tomato, broccoli and Chinese cabbage bred for the tropics under the watchful eyes of AVRDC scientists.
1989: Global interest in the production of vegetable soybean grows, with more than 40 cooperators requesting samples of AVRDC lines and accessions for testing. Although AVRDC’s soybean breeding program is focused primarily on the tropics and subtropics, the Center also receives many requests from temperate zone researchers.
1989: AVRDC’s efforts to breed tropical Chinese cabbage lines are successful. Researchers begin developing several heat-tolerant composites to ensure maximum use of genetic materials and allow scope for future improvements in the crop.