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Building Capacity of Caribbean and Pacific Scientists

CTA Intra-ACP Agricultural Policy Programme

May 28, 2014

Horticulture (plant) science is important for the future of agriculture, food, nutrition, incomes and prosperity. Enhancing the production of cereals, fruits and vegetables as well as improvements in plant breeding (e.g. drought resistance), conducting research on impacts of climate change, optimizing indigenous genetic resources, managing pest and diseases, and improving postharvest handling/reducing postharvest losses are all critical in attaining food and nutrition security.

These topical issues are among the major areas covered within the umbrella of the horticulture/plant science discipline which is now facing a major crisis as interest in horticulture (plant science) has been dwindling. Both the developed world and developing countries including ACP countries are concerned about the critical shortage of plant scientists and breeders and postharvest expertise.

August 2014 marks one hundred and fifty years since the first International Horticulture Congress was held by the International Society for Horticultural Science in 1864 in Brussels. The 29th IHC, which will be held at the Brisbane Convention Centre, Brisbane, Australia, has received over 4,000 abstracts. This result reflects how much interest has been generated and that there are opportunities for turning the tide in favour of sustaining a critical mass to safeguard the future of horticultural/plant science. An extensive programme has been developed for the international Congress consisting of plenary sessions, symposia, workshops, training schools and tours. The Congress programme will include 43 symposia covering a wide range of topics. Participants will have the opportunity of hearing from some leading experts in their fields from around the world. Topics will include horticulture in relation to food security, food safety, the environment and health.

CTA has expressed particular interest in facilitating the participation of young professionals from the Caribbean and the Pacific in a specialized pre-congress short course training programme on postharvest which covers harvesting, packing shed, storage technology and distribution including ICT use. 

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photo © Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security

The indicative training programme outline is as follows:

IHC2014 Pre-Congress Training
University of Queensland Postharvest Horticulture Short Course
13-15 August, 2014
Mapleton Conference Centre, Queensland


Course Plan

Wednesday 13 August, 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM: Lectures (Welcome and Introduction, Modules 1-6, General Discussion session).
Thursday 14 August, 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM: Lectures (Modules 7-8), Field trip to a local packhouse, Laboratory activity at the Maroochy Research Facility, Nambour.
Friday 15 August, 5:00 AM – 9:00 PM: Field trip to Brisbane Markets and other horticulture chain enterprises in south-east Queensland, General wrap up session, Short course dinner.

Lecture content

Module 1: Harvesting (Roberto Marques, NSW DPI)
Topics to include: product maturity, harvest time, harvesting methods.

Module 2: Packing shed (Muhammad Amin, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad; UAF)
Topics to include: product arrival, treatments, grading, packing, palletising, cooling.

Module 3: Storage technology (Aman Malik, UAF and Dan Sole, QDAFF)
Topics include: temperature and cooling techniques, relative humidity, air movement and pressure (including forced-air cooling), atmosphere composition.

Module 4: Distribution (Terry Campbell, QDAFF)
Topics to include: transportation – air, sea, road, rail, heat sources in a refrigerated container, unitisation, stabilisation, loading patterns, modified atmospheres.

Module 5: Features of harvested produce (Andrew Macnish, QDAFF)
Topics: plant structure, changes after harvest, respiration, ethylene, ripening, water loss.

Module 6: Product quality (Steven Underhill, University of the Sunshine Coast, QAFFI)
Topics to include: quality standards, factors contributing to quality loss.

Module 7: Plant pathology and food safety (Tony Cooke, QDAFF)
Topics to include: factors influencing postharvest pathology, common postharvest diseases, foodborne illness, disease/microbe control strategies.

Module 8: Horticulture value chains (Terry Campbell, QDAFF)
Topics to include: Supply chains vs value chains, collaboration, relationships, VCA.


Laboratory activity

Show effects of temperature, ethylene and handling (impact damage) on produce quality, demonstrate common postharvest techniques used to assess produce quality (e.g. total soluble solids, acidity, firmness, colour, ethylene and CO2 production, disease and defect rating systems). Ian Wells (QDAFF) to assist in preparation and delivery along with lecturers.

Field trips

Visit vegetable farm (e.g. Mulgowie Farms/Rugby Farm), packing shed operation (e.g. Natures Fruit), packaging manufacturer (e.g. Amcor), distribution centre and retail store (e.g. Coles/Woolworths), wholesale markets (e.g. Brisbane Markets).

Participants and Target Groups

Under the Intra-ACP Agricultural Policy Programme, CTA will sponsor the participation of young scientists/researchers from the Caribbean and Pacific to participate in both the pre-conference training and the ICH2014.

CTA will collaborate with the Pacific Islands University Research Network (PIURN), UWI Trinidad and Tobago and CARDI to select the CTA sponsored delegates using a designated nomination form. Each will be required to write an activity report and host a 1-2 hour session including making a presentation to their organization on return to their home countries. They will be integrated into the CTA network on post harvest. CTA will share the pre-approved participant lists with ISHS for direct follow-up.

Conveners include:

  • International Society for Horticultural Science
  • The Australian Society of Horticultural Science
  • The New Zealand Institute of Agricultural & Horticultural Science Inc
  • Secretariat of the Pacific Community

Date, Duration and Venue

Pre-conference training: 13-15 August 2014 at the Mapleton Conference Centre, Queensland, Australia
IHC2014: 16-22 August at the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre, Brisbane, Australia