UF, Australia Collaborate on Tropical Fruit Research

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Vanilla bean pod cultivars s courtesy Alan Chambers at UF/IFAS Tropical Research and Education Center.

By Clint Thompson

The University of Florida Board of Trustees and Northern Territory of Australia have signed an agreement to increase the development of research projects and share technological knowledge on tropical crop production.

It’s a win-win for both entities who are trying to enhance vanilla, mangoes and passionfruit in both countries, believes Alan Chambers, plant geneticist at UF/IFAS Tropical Research and Education Center.

Alan Chambers

“What we find is we can get a lot more done by being collaborative. Naturally, within the U.S. we can reach out to other countries and leveraging, whether it’s funding or diversity or bringing together different technical skills and capabilities, we’re able to do a lot more than we can by ourselves,” Chambers said. “Specifically, with Australia, we share a lot in common in terms of the growing environment and supporting our local growers. They’re also very interested in supporting domestic production just like we are. We share the same challenges and concerns, as well as potential for synergy within our groups.”

What Does it Include?

According to UF/IFAS, the agreement is based on four components:

  1. The exchange of technical information between the parties as it pertains to producing vanilla, passionfruit and mangoes;
  2. The investigation of research questions to improve production systems and returns for growers on these crops;
  3. Develop research proposals to secure funding on a case-by-case basis;
  4. Support the exchange of staff and students to build capacity and facilitate the transfer of technical knowledge between the parties.

“There’s certainly much less known about our tropical crops, especially for niche and specialty crops that are extremely valuable but smaller acreage. At the same time, we’re supporting these small-scale growers, lower acreage growers, with something new and exciting that consumers love but we have to be a little more creative about how we figure out how to do that research to support those growers,” Chambers added.