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image -Alan Chambers - vanilla cultivars at TREC

UF/IFAS, Australia formalize to collaborate on fruit, crop research

  • The University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) and Northern Territory of Australia have signed a memorandum of understanding.
  • At the core of the agreement is the exchange of technical expertise among students, faculty and scientists working on tropical crops of mutual interest.
  • The agreement opens the door for research development opportunities for the sustainability of agricultural commodities for specified geographic areas.
image - vanilla beans -

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

HOMESTEAD, Fla. — The highly coveted vanilla spice, along with mangoes and passionfruit are at the root of a collaborative agreement between two entities that are continents apart.

Photo courtesy of Alan Chambers, plant breeding geneticist at UF/IFAS Tropical Research and Education Center

UF’s Board of Trustees, on behalf of the UF/IFAS Tropical Research and Education Center in Homestead have signed an agreement with the Northern Territory of Australia that allows for exchange of UF/IFAS scientists, faculty and students, as well as the sharing of technological knowledge, development of research projects.

The initiative’s objective is to let researchers study and discuss vanilla, passionfruit, and mangoes so they can identify shared strategic interests on the sustainable development of the fruits and crops. The MOU is in effect until July 2, 2022, when the agreement expires.

“We are excited by the new opportunities that will come out of this partnership,” said Alan Chambers, a plant geneticist at UF/IFAS Tropical Research and Education Center vanilla research site. “We share many of the same challenges around tropical fruit production and expect to create synergy leading to benefit researchers, growers, and consumers.”

 

The agreement sets the stage for four components:

  • The exchange of technical information between the parties as it pertains to growing vanilla, passionfruit and mangoes,
  • The investigation of research questions to improve production systems and returns for growers on these crops,
  • Develop research proposals to secure funding on a case-by-case basis,
  • Support the exchange of staff and students to build capacity and facilitate the transfer of technical knowledge between the parties.
image- passion fruit on a trellis

Passionflower vine at Mandarin Garden Club.

“This collaboration will help advance tropical fruit production in Australia, the United States, and beyond,” said Chambers. “This includes research from horticulture to plant breeding.”

Both the Northern Territory of Australia and UF/IFAS work with stakeholders to ensure efficient and profitable cultivation of tropical crops in their areas. This includes collaborating with growers and community members.

Most of the results of this collaboration will include “behind the scenes” work that could eventually become useful to growers, added Chambers.

“With the MOU, we can start the process of defining the areas for greatest impact. Eventually, growers and consumers could see new crops or new cultivars for their favorite crops grown more sustainably and available locally.”

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By Lourdes Mederos, rodriguezl@ufl.edu; 954-577-6363

The mission of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) is to develop knowledge relevant to agricultural, human and natural resources and to make that knowledge available to sustain and enhance the quality of human life. With more than a dozen research facilities, 67 county Extension offices, and award-winning students and faculty in the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, UF/IFAS brings science-based solutions to the state’s agricultural and natural resources industries, and all Florida residents.
ifas.ufl.edu  @UF_IFAS