Expanding Production of African Eggplant in the Red River Valley

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2022: $29,611.00
Projected End Date: 07/15/2024
Grant Recipient: Prairie Rose Agricultural Institute for Research, Innovation, & Education
Region: North Central
State: Minnesota
Project Coordinator:
Verna Kragnes
Prairie Rose Agricultural Institute for Research, Innovation, & Education


  • Vegetables: eggplant


  • Crop Production: food processing, food product quality/safety, high tunnels or hoop houses
  • Education and Training: demonstration, farmer to farmer, on-farm/ranch research
  • Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns, cooperatives, new enterprise development, value added
  • Pest Management: mulching - plastic
  • Production Systems: organic agriculture
  • Sustainable Communities: new business opportunities

    Proposal summary:

    Traditional organic cultural methods employed by immigrant farmers for production of African eggplant will be complemented by use of plastic covered raised beds & two different high tunnel season extension methods.  Eggplant will be evaluated for quantity of production in each method comparing/documenting amount of the plant's total season production and comparing quality though Brix testing and appearance.  The increased summer production will be packaged, frozen and sold through a new enterprise, Red River Valley Eggplant, organized by Caliton Ntahompagaze, replacing frozen eggplant in local ethnic groceries currently sourced from Ghana.   African & Asian families seek the lower quality frozen product when fresh or their own home-grown & frozen eggplant is not available.  This project is an example of an African proverb, "When you wash the right hand, the left hand also get's clean" as it accomplishes significant expansion of production skills among all participating New Roots farmers, provides experience in analyzing cost of production among various methods, launches/plans for future growth of an enterprise designed to replace an off season international market for a culturally significant food thereby assisting these entrepreneurial farmers to realize their dreams of establishing their individual small scale highly productive farms.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    1. Compare cost of production for traditional production with use of raised plastic covered beds & season extension using Catepillar moveable high tunnel & Four Season Tool moveable caliton eggplantHigh tunnel methods
    2. Evaluate quality through use of Brix testing and visual comparison of differences in appearance, size & shape
    3. Replicate individual farmer preferred methods on their own farm during 2023
    4. Assist one farmer in clarifying his business model and building a plan for future enterprise growth
    5. Share findings through field days, website, social media, and conference presentations
    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.