The Walmart Foundation is donating $3 million to the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture for a sustainability project that intends to cut delivery times to consumers.
The contribution is earmarked for the Fayetteville, Ark.-based division’s Center for Agricultural and Rural Sustainability. Center leaders plan to create and manage a national competitive grant program that awards money to land-grant and other public universities.
Recipients are to work to expand where strawberries can be grown and allow for shorter trips from farm to the consumer, according to a news release.
Because strawberries can lose up to 36% of their freshness between harvest and arrival in stores, the center plans to solicit proposals that will expand strawberry production areas, reduce energy use and cut product losses, according to the release.
“Strawberries are a highly perishable fruit with a short shelf life in the supply chain,” Curt Rom, a division horticulture professor, said in the release. “Strawberries travel an average distance up to or exceeding 3,000 miles from farm to market.”
Started in 2007, the center focuses on improving economic, social and ecological prosperity for rural communities around the world by developing tools for farmers and researches and teaches production methods that improve water quality and works to allow farms to harvest healthy and safe produce, according to the release.