Colombia committed to climate-smart agriculture

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The recent renewal of the second phase of this agreement is a clear sign of the confidence of the Ministry and the Colombian guilds. Photo: N.Palmer
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Government, private sector and producers' associations acknowledge the importance of agricultural research in Colombia; and trust in research institutions to further improve the competitiveness of the agricultural sector.

With only two years after its implementation, the Climate and Colombian Agricultural Sector agreement has made striking progress in improving the competitiveness of agriculture in Colombia. The work  was endorsed by the signing of the second phase by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MADR) and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT).

The recent renewal is a clear sign of the confidence of the Ministry and productive guilds (gremios) involved in the work undertaken by CIAT and supported the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS).

After the first two years of work, agroclimatic forecasts were generated for major agricultural areas of the country; and climate limiting factors are well-identified in eleven departments in the production of corn, rice and beans that lead to generate production gaps between farmers.

Also, there are now varieties of maize, rice, beans and cassava tested on the field to observe their behavior in extreme events of drought and moisture excess, and crop technologies are applied to produce rice, corn, grasses and potatoes with less water requirements and emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs). Therefore, guilds also recognize the importance of renewing this Agreement:

"This agreement allowed us to analyze the information on productivity and crop management. Most of the objectives have been accomplished and ​always will be something more to do, because this is extremely dynamic and there are many factors that affect in one way or another the behavior of the plant. Therefore, we must always be researching, analyzing in each of the rice regions what is happening with the crops," said Rafael Hernández, the Director of the National Rice Producers Federation (Fedearroz).

Looking towards the future

For this second phase the agreement will continue working with MADR as a key partner in the allocation of resources, coupled with the close collaboration with strategic partners between gremios and research centers, as Fedearroz and the National Federation of Grains and Legumes Cultivators (Fenalce).

Joining the team, the new 'players' are the Colombian Federation of Cattle Breeders (Fedegan), the Colombian Research Center of Sugarcane (Cenicaña) and the Association of Banana Growers of Magdalena and La Guajira (Asbama).

This second phase already defined the prioritized topics in order to scale up the positive results of the first phase, including keeping the production of agroclimatic forecasts for rice and maize producing areas; strengthening the analysis of Climate-Site Specific Management (CSMS) in rice, beans and maize, and expansion of both activities into new areas prioritized by the Ministry.

In turn, the priorities will focus on maintaining the validation process in the field of technological adaptation options in rice, maize and beans; deciding the analysis model for the implementation of the approach of CSMS in livestock to characterize the environmental supply of the different cattle areas; and CSMS and crop modeling in banana considering the agro-climatic variables of Magdalena and La Guajira departments. Also, preliminary carbon footprint of the livestock sector will be measured and will identify alternatives to reduce GHG emissions, and will lay the foundations for agro-climatic predictions in the main producing areas of sugar cane and banana.

Aurelio Iragorri, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, on a recent visit to CIAT recognized the importance of continuing to fostering this project:

"We will continue working together in the agreement signed in this government because it shows results that were evaluated by one of the most important awards in the prevention of climate change. The second phase of the agreement is absolutely necessary and we will do it."

Crossing borders

"What we are doing in Colombia is a success story, replicable in any other country in Latin America. We want that the case of Colombia will be implemented in other countries", said Andy Jarvis in a forum held by the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington.

As research becomes results, the agreement will keep developing ideas and alliances that allow scaling up the work beyond borders, like Honduras for example, whose delegates from the agricultural sector recently visited the campus of CIAT, invited by CCAFS Latin America in order to show the detailed work and the results of the agreement.

The delegation led by Ricardo Peña, Director of the Unit for Planning and Evaluation of Management of the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock of Honduras (UPEG-SAG), held meetings in Bogotá, Cali and Monteria with representatives of the agricultural sector with the aim to replicate this agreement in their country.

"We are very pleased with what we've seen on this visit; we got many ideas and valuable information to begin the design a similar project in Honduras, which we hope will be as successful as this," Peña said.