Vegetables Without Borders
What is more peaceful than a vegetable? Quiet. Unassuming. Well-grounded.
At last, vegetables are gaining recognition as a powerful force for peace in the world. All kidding aside, vegetables are serving to connect the bordering nations of India and Pakistan. How is this happening and why? The story begins with the World Vegetable Center (AVRDC) which is a research and development institute educating people in the benefits of growing and eating a variety of vegetables. Headquartered in Taiwan, they maintain regional offices throughout Asia and Africa. Perhaps you were not aware that the world needed such an organization, but once you find out all that they’re doing, you’ll be thankful that they exist.
Here is the story on the peacemaking project that AVRDC inaugurated last month:
In a week when individuals from India and Pakistan were awarded the Nobel Peace prize, AVRDC also facilitated historic agricultural cooperation across the Punjab border as a part of its USAID-funded Agricultural Innovations for Pakistan project.
Initiated by the AVRDC South Asia office, a three day meeting at Punjab Agricultural University in India from October 8-10 mapped out activities for the first-ever project collaboration between the university and their agricultural colleagues in Pakistan.
Most meeting participants had never travelled to their neighbouring country, despite both sharing the divided province of Punjab that was split between India and Pakistan at independence. Agricultural conditions and needs on both sides of the border are very similar.
Welcoming the AVRDC Pakistan team, the head of the university’s Department of Vegetable Science, Dr. Major Dhaliwal, said “We have had many international projects, but this is the first one with Pakistan. We are honoured to have visitors from Pakistan – it’s like a family reunion.”
The three AVRDC staff from Pakistan, led by team leader Mansab Ali, joined over 30 staff from the university and three members of the AVRDC South Asia regional office led by Regional Director Warwick Easdown.
AVRDC’s work in Pakistan focuses on protected cultivation, increasing mungbean production and improving value chains. In addition to planning joint work in these three areas, the group also visited research facilities and farms across Punjab.
These included university trials, a state government Center of Excellence in protected cultivation, and farmers producing a range of crops under cover and managing marketing cooperatives to improve their returns.
India has made rapid progress in the development of protected cultivation of vegetables. Growing vegetables under sturdy polynet houses–promoted in a joint project between AVRDC and PAU–is almost unknown in Pakistan. There is a need to link Pakistan more strongly to international innovations.
However, Pakistan mungbean yields are higher than those in India, and innovations such as post-emergent herbicide mixes developed in Pakistan have good potential for application in India.
The USAID Agricultural Innovations Program project is helping to link agricultural innovations on both sides of the border, building peace through a shared interest in vegetables.
— Warwick Easdown