FIU and the Walmart Foundation are teaming up to help build stronger agricultural systems in the face of climate change. Florida is the nation’s largest producer of tomatoes, tropical fruits and winter vegetables, and climate change is expected to increase the occurrence and strength of droughts, floods, pest infestations and disease infestations. These effects of climate change can harm farmers, their crops and the country’s food supply.
Florida employs more than1.5 million people in the agriculture, natural resources and food processing industries. In Miami-Dade County alone, agriculture has a nearly $2.7 billion annual economic impact, according to the South Dade Chamber of Commerce. But, the state’s farmers are working under increasing pressures from environmental regulations, labor welfare regulations, international competition and consumer demand.
With support from The Walmart Foundation, researchers in FIU’s College of Arts, Sciences & Education and the College of Business will conduct a thorough assessment of Florida’s tomato and strawberry production systems. They will evaluate the entire supply chain to identify what works, what doesn’t, and why. The research team will offer environmentally sustainable and ethically responsible management strategies to help these industries and their work force adapt to climate change.
FIU environmental science researchers will assess current crop production practices -including planting and harvest dates, crop rotations, irrigation, fertilizer application and pesticide application- and predict their long-term environmental impacts. They will also identify techniques that will help strawberries and tomatoes adapt to climate change.
The Walmart Foundation is supporting FIU’s research initiatives with nearly $440,000 in funding.