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A System-Based Management Practices for Enhancing Quality and Safety of Organic Produce: Planning Grant


<p>Our long-term goal is to adopt a system-based approach in developing scale appropriate management practices using advanced and emerging technologies for sustainable food production (including organic crops). The goal of this planning grant is to lay the foundation of for developing a multi-state interdisciplinary team of researchers and stakeholders who will work together to identify priority research and extension needs for a subsequent integrated OREI grant proposal. This grant will enable the team to share with the stakeholders the concepts of systems-based management practice using risk-assessment modeling and sensor technologies to address safety and quality issues of organic produce. Moreover, the team will also assess the stakeholder's needs and develop pathways to address the identified needs related to safety and quality of organic produce. We intend to use two vegetables - lettuce and tomato as our model organic produce during our study. Our interdisciplinary faculty members with research and extension expertise represent six land grant universities and different geographical regions of the U.S. Our university team members will work closely with the regional and national growers and stakeholders. Thus, our team is well prepared to undertake this project. We propose the following specific objectives to meet our goal of developing a competitive integrative grant proposal to OREI for 2016. </p><p>The specific objectives are:</p><p><ol><li> Organize a project meeting at Purdue University to be attended by all the project investigators and a wide range of stakeholders.</li><li>Conduct a survey among the stakeholders related to needs and practices for safety and post-harvest quality of organic fresh produce.</li><li> Develop informational-materials on emerging information and sensor technologies and their potential applications for safety and quality issues of organic produce.</li><li> Participate in regional organic meeting to be engaged with a variety of stakeholders for assessment of needs and technological solutions with respect to organic produce.</li><li> Develop a competitive integrated OREI proposal to be submitted in 2016.</li></ol></p>

More information

Microbial food safety and post-harvest quality are critical issues for organic produce. Recent advancements of sensor, electronics, computer-based information, and intelligent modeling technique have potential to address the complex issues of microbial safety and quality of organic produce. It is critical to develop the appropriate form of technologies for real-world applications (i.e. safety and quality of organic produce). Thus, we adopted a two tier approach to address this issue. In the first stage, our team of interdisciplinary faculty members (from six land grant universities) chose to be engaged with the stakeholders of organic produce to identify and prioritize the problems and needs via this planning grant proposal. Based on the identified needs, we intend to develop an integrated proposal to OREI in 2016. We rationalize that this approach will lead to our success in bringing technological solutions for the benefit of our organic agricultural system. In this approach, we intend to engage the stakeholders in the development of the solution from day one and this will also allow them to be the advocate of the developed solution. Our project is aligned with FY 2015 priorities "develop and improve allowable post-harvest handling, processing and food safety practices to reduce microbial contaminations while increasing shelf-life, and quality". Our project also is aligned with a few segments of the two OREI legislatively defined goals - "improvement of organic production and food safety". Our proposed project is timely and is significant because we adopt a system-based approach in addressing the complex issue of microbial safety and quality. Our approach for microbial safety is based on risk prediction and therefore, is prevention-focused. Our overall approach for safety and quality is based on innovative adaptations of potential emerging technologies and research-based evidences. Our two tier-approachesin creating technology-based solutions are also appropriate. Our proposed research activities will generate new knowledge and information related to stakeholder's needs, microbial safety, harvesting, and post-harvest handling and technological adaptation for organic produce. Once completed, the developed systems and processes will also be useful for growers, processors, researchers and policymakers in making critical decisions related to produce quality and safety. This, in turn, contributes to the long-term sustainability of organic as well as U.S. agriculture.

Panigrahi, Suranjan
Purdue University
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