International Outreach

Training Africa’s New Postharvest Experts

What happens to fruits and vegetables that are packed too tightly into large bags, left in sweltering heat and jostled on the way to market?

Up to half of all fruits and vegetables grown in developing countries are spoiled from improper handling practices after harvest.

To improve postharvest handling among farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa, an international team led by Diane Barrett, of the UC Davis Department of Food Science and Technology, has opened a Postharvest Training and Services Center in Tanzania to provide training to farmers in cooling, storing, packing and transporting. The center will also sell supplies needed to care for produce after harvest.

In the center's first event, 36 new experts from seven African countries met at the center to complete their year-long training in postharvest practices with Barrett and her team. The new experts gave demonstrations to more than 100 local farmers on handling fresh produce, processing and food safety. The experts are now tasked with training farmers in Rwanda, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, Benin, Gabon and Ethiopia.

The new center and new experts are products of the Horticulture Collaborative Research Support Program at UC Davis, with funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development.

World’s First Confucius Institute Devoted to Food and Beverage Culture

On September 21, 2012, the Confucius Institute at UC Davis (CI at UC Davis) was officially established under the initiative of Charlie Shoemaker, Professor of Food Science and Technology, and William Lacy, Vice Provost for University Outreach and International Programs. The leadership of the Confucius Institute at UC Davis is composed of Director Charlie Shoemaker; Co-Director Linxia Liang, Director for Asian International Programs, University Outreach and International Programs; Deputy Director Jianqiao Dong, Dean, Jiangnan University; and Special Advisor Michelle Yeh, Professor and Chair of East Asian Languages and Cultures. Martin Yan '73, M.S. '77, an acclaimed chef and television celebrity has also contributed to the planning.

The CI at UC Davis is a partnership between UC Davis and Jiangnan University, the leading university in China in food science and fermentation, and the Chinese National Office for Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language (Hanban), a non-government and non-profit organization affiliated with the Ministry of Education in China. Within UC Davis, partners include the Departments of Food Science and Technology; Viticulture and Enology; East Asian Languages and Cultures; the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science; and the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. A Board of Advisors is co-chaired by William Lacy and Xu Yan, Vice President, Jiangnan University, and provides leadership and advice on the organization, policies and programs.

The mission of the CI at UC Davis is to draw upon the strengths of both universities to promote an understanding of Chinese food and beverage culture through facilitating research, education and outreach. It also provides a valuable platform for communication between the food and wine industries of California and China.

The CI at UC Davis is planning a grand opening on September 16, 2013 at the Mondavi Performing Arts Center which is open to the public. Additional event information will be available on the CI at UC Davis website this summer. Following the gala event, the Confucius Institute at UC Davis will regularly present lectures, workshops, and other activities open to the public.

One Health Nicaragua

The One Health: Nicaragua project is entering its second year of exciting collaborations. A partnership between veterinary, medical and health sciences, the project aims to develop multidisciplinary programs to improve healthcare access and alleviate poverty in rural Nicaragua. Working in partnership with local organizations and communities, the programs are designed to emphasize ethically sound, community-based approaches to improved health and sustainable development.

This June, the team, composed of veterinarians, physicians and multidisciplinary students, will be returning to Sabana Grande to continue investigating health inequities of the region, and to implement an educational framework created to encourage information exchange between students and local health professionals. This framework will create a platform for community education, and will focus on empowerment, ownership of knowledge and skill-sets, and the ability to create long lasting change.

Areas of emphasis will include public health issues such as water sanitation and vector control, as well as animal health and production issues, including egg production in backyard poultry and nutritional deficiencies in cattle. By tackling these projects from a One Health perspective, UC Davis can address the health needs of the community at their roots, preventing health problems before they arise, and stimulating the local economy as a result.