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Enhancing consumption

Our goal: Help smallholder farmers profitably participate in high value vegetable supply chains, and increase consumption of a diversity of vegetables for the nutrition and health of poor consumers

Imbalanced diets lead to the death of millions of people each year, particularly in developing countries where micronutrient malnutrition is chronic and debilitating. Vegetables and fruit are important sources of micronutrients such as vitamin A, iron and other phytochemicals that are essential to good health, but consumption in most countries is well below WHO minimum recommendations of 400 grams per person per day.

Smallholder farming families with limited space can generate more income from growing vegetables than staples such as rice or maize. Labor-intensive vegetable production also provides more rural employment opportunities. Vegetable supply chains often involve mainly women. However, because most vegetables are highly perishable, up to half of the yield can be lost before consumption.

The Center works to improve vegetable supply chains in developing countries. These linkages are often poorly understood, particularly for indigenous vegetables, which can be a major source of nutrition and income for the poorest. We provide training in postharvest management and develop appropriate technologies to reduce postharvest losses. Our analytical work has clarified the important nutritional and health benefits of indigenous vegetables. We also breed nutritionally enhanced vegetables, improve traditional recipes for greater nutritional benefits, and distribute home garden seed packs for improved family nutrition and disaster relief.

Expertise

  • Researching supply chains for high-value crops with a focus on developing the capacities of smallholder farmers and processors of tomatoes, chilies, leafy vegetables, and indigenous vegetables to participate actively in these chains.
  • Developing low-cost solutions to minimize postharvest loss in vegetables, and providing capacity building in improved postharvest management, food safety, and enhanced marketing skills.
  • Analyzing the nutritional and functional food values of indigenous vegetables, and developing nutritionally improved food preparation methods.
  • Extending the improved production, food preparation, and consumption of nutrient-rich vegetables by poor households through promotion campaigns, workshops and training courses on home garden production and vegetable consumption.
  • Researching food choices, consumption, and the role of home gardens in improving family health. Developing and promoting home garden seed kits to poor households, NGOs, and national agricultural research and extension systems.
  • Breeding nutritionally enhanced varieties of tomato, pepper, and cucurbits and promoting their use through home gardens, NGOs, and public and private sector breeding programs.