Workshop takes a tropical twist: Farmer-to-Farmer program connects with tropical agricultural research.

Tropical fruit production and research take place in the two geographic extremes of the United States: South Florida, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands in the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean region; and Hawaii and Guam in the Pacific Basin.

While they face many of the same challenges, researchers in both regions had never come together in a single forum—not until the three-day Tropical Fruit Production and Handling Workshop held at the Holiday Inn Port of Miami on July 6-8, 2006.

The event sponsor was the Tropical and Subtropical Agriculture Research (T-STAR) program, which is funded by the Cooperative State Research Education and Extension Service (CSREES) within the U. S. Department of Agriculture.

Discussion focused on research accomplishments and projected research needs to establish priorities that will best serve the tropical fruit industries of both regions. Among the invited speakers was Carmen Algeciras, (MIB ’03, BBA ’01), director, John Ogonowski Farmer-to-Farmer program in the college.

Presentation focuses on FTF program’s accomplishments and Central American research needs.

Addressing an audience of more than fifty scientists and agricultural researchers, Algeciras provided an overview of the FTF program, detailing its goals and research priorities as well as current challenges and regional constraints.

Carmen Algeciras

According to Algeciras, the FTF program has completed more than 187 projects related to tropical horticulture since its 2003 inception, including:

  • design of an informational system for national and international tropical fruit markets
  • development of light jam and marmalades with tropical fruits
  • processing tropical fruits
  • mango flower production and induction
  • development of fruit shelf-life and index methodologies
  • training in fruit fly control

“We plan to complete an additional 139 projects through the Latin American region over the next two years,” she said.

Workshop spurs momentum for ongoing research and discussion.

Algeciras believes that the workshop accomplished its goals, which were to promote the exchange of information and data on current research programs, to prioritize critical research areas for joint projects, to encourage development and submission of joint inter-regional grant applications, and to stimulate the publishing of joint research.

“The event encouraged the synthesis of research in this area with a clear focus on the needs of producers throughout Latin America, the Caribbean, and the Pacific Basin,” Algeciras said. “It also provided an excellent opportunity for showcasing the college’s FTF program and for making valuable new connections.”

One immediate result: Algeciras has been invited to be a speaker at the upcoming 52nd Annual Inter-American Society for Tropical Horticulture in Puerto Rico.

“After my presentation, I had the chance to talk with many people who wanted to discuss potential opportunities to collaborate with the college’s FTF program and who also showed an interest in volunteering in the program,” she said.

Workshop host T-STAR brings together scientists and researchers in this field from the University of Florida, University of Puerto Rico, University of the Virgin Islands, University of Hawaii, and University of Guam. The program is designed to strengthen the research capabilities and economies of the tropical and subtropical areas in the United States.

The Farmer-to-Farmer program, which falls under the umbrella of the Knight Ridder Center for Excellence in Management and the Eugenio Pino and Family Global Entrepreneurship Center, both centers in the college, is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

To learn more about the Farmer-to-Farmer program, visit For more details about participating, contact Carmen Algeciras, program director, at 305-348-0399 or

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