Local farmers on Delmarva tapping into Asian Indian vegetables with help of UMES, could help the economy

DELMARVA- After receiving two U.S. Department of Agriculture grants, totaling $63,000 dollars, an assistant professor at UMES is now aiming to provide research and training to farmers and students to start a successful Asian Indian vegetable enterprise on Delmarva.

“We are just importing everything from the outside and the question is why, why are we importing when we have all the facilities here,” Dr. Naveen Kumar Dixit, assistant professor of horticulture, said.

We are told they are growing Asian Indian vegetables like bitter gourd, bottle gourd, and eggplant at UMES.

They will then do research and work with local farmers to get the product in the community.

“More than 90 pounds I gave to a local grocery store, they are selling it and they are collecting data for me,” Dixit said.

The professor said there’s a few reasons they wanted to conduct this program, but some of the key ideas were that there is a growing population of Asians in the area and shopping local has become a big movement, something that some local farmers would agree with.

“We want to support local agriculture, local economy, and above all local health, these are very healthy vegetables,” Dixit said.

“Locally it will help, it will help the cash register across Food Lion or wherever you buy,” Eddie Johnson, retired farmer, said.

And while we are told this project will help farmers and the economy positively, we are also told it will benefit UMES students.

“They are learning how to design and they are learning what are the ground route problems on the Delmarva peninsula, and they are learning how to grow new crops, in fact they are also learning culture,” Dixit said.

We’re told from 2010 to 2020 there was a 50 percent increase in the Asian population in Salisbury alone.

It’s important to note there will be online platforms and workshops to make this information available to people all across the world.

UMES told us they will also be facilitating cooking classes in the future so people know how to cook these vegetables and what their nutritional values are.

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