Small-farm operators in Africa and parts of Asia are intended to reap the benefits from two $1 million grants supporting seed-related research for indigenous African vegetables, awarded by the Horticulture Collaborative Research Support Program in UC Davis’ Department of Plant Sciences.

The first of the newly funded projects is led by Kent Bradford, director of the UC Davis Seed Biotechnology Center, and a team of scientists, innovators and agricultural extension experts in Nepal, Bangladesh, India, Kenya and Thailand. The project aims to improve seed quality for farmers with very limited resources by developing affordable methods for preserving viable seeds despite high temperature and humidity.

The team will conduct research, disseminate their findings to farmers, and work to create a sustainable market in six African and Asian countries for the new technology, which uses desiccant drying beads to preserve the seeds.

The second grant was awarded to a team of researchers led by Stephen Weller of Purdue University. That project is focused on improving African indigenous vegetable systems in Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia.

The researchers plan to boost production and marketing of these vegetables to improve nutrition, health and income among smallholder farmers. They will target production, supply, postharvest handling and consumer acceptability.

In addition to analyzing the nutritional value of the vegetables, the research team intends to link growers with better markets in order to boost their income and improve nutrition in the region.

Funds for the two grants were provided by the by the U.S. Agency for International Development to the Horticulture Collaborative Research Support Program, which supports U.S. and international partners who conduct research training and outreach to countries with the greatest need. These projects are intended to build on the success of 30 other completed and ongoing projects funded by the program.