Prototyping Tropical Horticulture Resilience

This project identifies, tests and disseminates easy accessible nature based solutions with impact using cover crops, green manure, animal manure and cropping patterns, agronomic principles with impact yet rarely implemented in African vegetable farming.

This project addresses smallholder vegetable sector development in Africa. In the past decades the focus on African agricultural research and development dominated staple food, fodder and livestock. Numerous studies and papers were carried out studying field crop system development, e.g introducing legumes in rainfed rotations. Vegetables are typically produced segregated from field crop rotations and because of a lower political priority there was little research and innovation in vegetable cropping rotations. Smart tropical cropping systems are virtually nonexistent. The Dutch vegetable breeding companies are global technology and seed market leaders and catalyze agricultural transformation. Breeding is crucial for sector innovation and improved genetics require that farmers enrich their knowledge base and skills. However, current agronomy recommendations predominantly focus on the use of pesticides and fertilizers and often have a single crop focus. There is a void in tropical vegetable cropping system innovation and little attention for sustainability factors like water & soil conservation, biodiversity and ecosystem services. Farmers in the tropics commonly lack knowledge of Good Agricultural Practice addressing proper use of agrochemicals. Breeding improved varieties goes hand in hand with GAP which is mainly addressing agrochemicals. The single focus on one crop with chemical IPM is not sustainable and with the current crises in fuel and fertilizer prices, farmers urgently need alternatives. Seed companies are selling less seed in Africa because farmers no longer can afford to pay their fertilizers.

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