LDAF accepts grant applications for specialty crops in LA, helps past recipients

LDAF accepts grant applications for specialty crops in LA, helps past recipients
Published: Feb. 7, 2023 at 6:19 PM CST
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BATON ROUGE, La. (KNOE) - The Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry is looking to make growers and innovators in Louisiana more ambitious when it comes to producing specialty crops, such as vegetables, dried fruits, nursery crops or citrus products.

Commissioner Dr. Mike Strain of LDAF says applicants should make sure their projects focus on issues that will help improve specialty crop industries in areas like research, food safety, and market development for the 2023 Specialty Crop Block Grant Program.

Strain says private individuals may apply, but they’re encouraged to team up with an agricultural-focused organization on a project before submitting an application.

Past recipients of the grant say it’s necessary to protect food that’s grown throughout the state, so residents can safely consume the food. Dr. Qinglin Wu, Professor with the LSU AgCenter says some foods are high quality, but they’re subject to decay or become rotten.”

“So, it is critically important if we can preserve the post-harvesting life by applying coating materials, which can be consumed together with the fruit,” says Wu, who’s also one of the leaders of Developing a Sustainable Nanocoating Material for Extending the Market Life and Quality of Louisiana Fruit Crops project.

The assistance from the grant helped another leader of the project, David Picha, who’s a Professor of Horticulture with LSU AgCenter, to keep food safety and affordability in place.

“Like anything we need a certain amount of equipment, supplies,” says Picha. “To allow some of our local consumers to benefit from a longer shelf life - Louisiana-based nanoparticle coating materials that Dr. Wu has formulated; to allow better market prices, market access and high quality nutritious fruits and vegetables grown in Louisiana.”

LDAF has set aside more than $300,000 to distribute to 2023 grant recipients. They’re accepting applications until March 15, 2023.