Dr. Leonard M. PikeThe Vegetable and Fruit Improvement Center (VFIC) a part of the Texas A&M University Department of Horticultural Sciences, was established in 1992 under the direction of Dr. Leonard M. Pike, to support and strengthen the total vegetable industry through research. Its goal is to develop new technologies for producing quality vegetable products in an efficient, economic and environmentally sound system, with a focus on achieving health and nutrition benefits. In March 1999, fruit was officially added to the name and research scope of the Center.

Maroon carrotsVegetables and fruits are a necessity for good nutrition and health, a flavorful part of our diets and an important impact on the economy. The Texas produce industry provides jobs and income to thousands of people, including those in the seed industry, in the production, processing, wholesaling and retailing of vegetable and fruit products. Today, research for this vital industry is at a turning point. The industry must deal with problems such as low yields and disease or insect-damaged products; public concerns about chemical use; soil salinity and reduced supplies of irrigation water. Research also offers great opportunities to develop new vegetables and fruits with improved nutrition and health benefits. The industry’s ability to increase sales and compete in an increasingly global market will be enhanced as a result of this new research.

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