In the 21st century, success in commercial farming in the East will depend largely on the ability of the growers to focus on high value, specialty crops such as ethnic produce targeted at specific niche markets for favorable competitive advantages as does the rise in interest of locally grown produce and leaving a greener footprint with lowered transportation costs. Economic opportunities have arisen in the last decade for specialty crop agriculture catering to the ethnically diverse consumers along the eastern coast of the United States. This project seeks to understand the ethnic crops and herbs in market demand and develop new crops for Jersey agriculture, and to identify new uses and applications of plants, with a focus on fruits and vegetables and herbs. This program seeks to bring together the scientific disciplines ranging from genetics and plant variety development, through production and processing, product standardization, and to identify new bioactive compounds in the plants and foodstuffs that are of potential health and/or commercial interest. Most of the ethnic greens and herbs reviewed can be grown in production systems similar to those used to grow traditional American crops. This project also seeks to identify those crops which can be developed as nutraceuticals. Thus, the chemical profiling of a selected range of fruits, vegetables, herbs and botanicals will be extensively studied. These extracts will be assessed as dietary supplements and disease prevention agents. New products will be developed, the processing and extraction of the value-added products will be determined, and private sector partnerships will be sought to achieve fast track commercialization. An example of this is with the new bioactive compounds discovered in the waste of African nutmeg or Kombo (Simon et al. 2008). The intended outcome of this project is to foster the introduction of new crops and natural plant products via a market-first science driven model. This project will generate and distribute science-based information about production, marketability and utilization of selected ethnic greens, herbs and other new crops. This initiative will bridge the supply-demand gap, delivering practical solutions to economic problems faced by many leafy vegetable and herbs growers while contributing to the nutritional and health needs of regional consumers. Additional outputs of this research will be in creating a systems approach in the development of value-added products from the other crops. Results will be of interest to the scientific community and the food science and medical communities seeking new functional food ingredients and new products to improve human health. Results will be directly beneficial to Jersey and US agriculture. An outgrowth of our work on exotic plant species and medicinal plants led to the establishment of our international program focused on the judicious use of indigenous natural resources in sub-Saharan African (www.asnapp.org) as a vehicle for income generation and strengthening African women's associations and rural communities.
|Effective start/end date||7/1/09 → 6/30/14|
- National Institute of Food and Agriculture (National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA))