[ASC-media] More Vegies the World Over

Cathy Reade creade at squirrel.com.au
Mon Sep 19 10:37:52 EST 2005


19 September 2005


An international initiative to enhance the significant role that
horticulture can play in alleviating hunger and poverty offers positive
outcomes for Australian horticulture and the general public.

This is the message being presented at a range of industry, government and
other meetings this week by the head of the World Vegetable Center, Dr Tom
Lumpkin, who is in Australia to discuss and encourage greater Australian
support and involvement in the Global Horticultural Initiative.

The World Vegetable Center (www.avrdc.org), based in Taiwan, is the
principal international center for vegetable research and development in the
world. Its mission is to reduce poverty and malnutrition in developing
countries through improved production and consumption of vegetables.

Dr Bob Clements, the Executive Director of the ATSE Crawford Fund, welcomed
Dr Lumpkin’s visit.

“The World Vegetable Center has a great track record of delivering benefits
to developing countries and to Australia, which is no doubt why the
Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) has
supported it for many years,” said Dr Clements.

“Poverty is rampant in much of Asia and more than two billion persons suffer
from malnutrition. We know that promoting vegetables can contribute
significantly in solving these problems,” said Dr Clements.

“Dr Lumpkin’s visit comes at a time of growing awareness of the importance
of vegetables in the diet. An announcement on the weekend of findings from a
new study indicated that eating more raw vegetables everyday may help cut
the risk of certain types of cancer in half, such as pancreatic cancer which
is one of the most deadly and hard to treat cancers,” said Dr Clements.

Dr Lumpkin will be explaining to decision-makers, researchers and growers
that while the purpose of the Global Horticultural Initiative is to improve
the health and income for poor people in underdeveloped and emerging
economies worldwide, all the expected outcomes of this international
initiative are positive for Australia.

“By coordinating the world’s horticultural R&D organisations, we will be
able to increase the productivity, profitability, safety and sustainability
of horticultural crop production in wealthy and poor countries alike.”

“The Global Horticultural Initiative has identified where research dollars
would be best spent for maximum impact and now requires a major investment
in further research, training, technical support, and policy planning.”

Horticultural crops include fruits, vegetables, nuts, herbs, medicinal
plants and ornamentals.

The Crawford Fund's mission is to increase Australians' engagement in
international agricultural R&D & education for the benefit of developing
countries & Australia

ACIAR’s support for AVRDC in the past has been through a range of projects
with Australian collaborating institutions on issues such as the control of
gemini virus diseases of cotton and tomato in Pakistan and Australia, the
control of bacterial wilt by agricultural biotechnology, and the sustainable
integrated management of whiteflies as pests and vectors of plant viruses.

“With outcomes including increased yields of horticultural crops; the
development of new improved varieties of vegetables and fruits adapted to a
wide range of environmental conditions and market needs; new job
opportunities and higher incomes; enhanced market opportunities; and higher
consumption of horticultural produce, Australian growers and the general
public have much to gain from this,” said Dr Lumpkin.

The World Vegetable Center (or AVRDC) manages the largest and most diverse
germplasm collection of vegetables in the world, consisting of 54,500
accessions from 151 countries. This germplasm collection is an international
public good, which is safeguarded and made available to all. This repository
is used by scientists in over 100 countries to develop varieties that are
higher yielding, more nutritious, resist diseases, and protect food

AVRDC has distributed 440,000 seed samples to 193 countries and its
vegetable germplasm is available to researchers in Australia and the
Asia-Pacific region.

With this kind of resource, the Center was able to respond to the December
Tsunami by delivering 25,000 garden kits with 20 varieties of appropriate
vegetables, fertiliser, hoses and soil to families devastated by the tsunami
in Indonesia and Sri Lanka.

A recent survey showed that 34% of all tomato and 16% of all chilli pepper
varieties released in Asia possess genes obtained from AVRDC. Australian
researchers have received 2,100 accessions of 10 vegetables from AVRDC.
Numerous improved mungbeans from AVRDC have been released in Australia, e.g.
King, Shantung, Emerald, Satin and plans are underway to release AVRDC’s VC

The Center is also a leader in the identification and management of
vegetable diseases and insect pests and has established collaborative
networks to protect food supplies throughout the region, including in

“Our technologies lead to safer vegetable production in the region overall,
which contributes to a safer supply of food for Australians. For example, we
collaborate with Australian scientists on bacterial wilt and
whitefly-transmitted tomato yellow leaf curl virus diseases, in cooperation
with other countries in the region. These collaborative programs limit the
spread of diseases within the region.”

Mr Lumpkin noted the key difference between what vegetables can offer diets
of rich and poor people.

“While vegetables can improve diets and incomes in developing countries to
help them avoid hunger and poverty, they offer wealthy people the
opportunity to improve their diets to avoid the major obesity problems
currently being experienced in countries like Australia and the USA.”

Further information, photos and to organise an interview, contact Cathy
Reade on 0413 575 934
More background is available on related topics as below:
The Global Horticulture Initiative  http://www.avrdc.org/pdf/brief-GHI.pdf
Horticulture for Poverty Alleviation
Global Horticulture: Now is the Time for Action

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