International Fresh Produce Association (IFPA) has formed a new volunteer leadership council focused on Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA). The council will focus on opportunities available within the growing market and be led by volunteer leader Abby Prior, chief commercial officer at Bright Farms, and IFPA staff liaison Vonnie Estes vice-president of Agfood Tech Innovation.
"Controlled environment agriculture is not only a market with incredible business potential but also is a sustainable solution to meet the demand for fresh produce year-round," said Prior. "I look forward to working with other leaders in the industry to collaborate and build the strength of our segment within the industry."
Left to right: Abby Prior, Vonnie Estes
Currently, farmers contend with unpredictable field conditions caused by weather, pests, and more. CEA allows growers not only to customize the environment for the plant, removing the stress of pests and disease but also to reduce the need for secondary products used to eliminate these threats.
"CEA allows breeders to shift their focus towards discovering new crops and developing the traits in new or current crops that allow for longer shelf life along with improved flavor and nutrition," said Estes. "Any opportunity to grow consumption and remove barriers to access and preference for fresh produce is a critical segment for our industry. I look forward to working alongside our industry volunteers as we explore and learn more about this new market."
Estes will lead panels at the upcoming Washington Conference on September 26-28 and The Global Produce & Floral Show in Orlando, Florida, October 27-29.
IFPA will open applications for volunteer opportunities this fall. Those interested in joining the council can find more information on the IFPA volunteer opportunity website.