Ground-breaking agreement to strengthen Colombia’s agricultural resilience

Photo: N. Palmer (CIAT)

Climate variability and extremes such as droughts and floods are damaging agricultural production in Colombia. Against this backdrop, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MADR) signed a technical and scientific cooperation agreement with the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) in 2013.

For the first time, the agreement brings together research institutions, producer organizations, NGOs and farmers in an effort to strengthen agricultural resilience and cut the sector’s use of resources. Among other things, the partnership will build Colombia’s ability to provide useful weather information to farmers, test and promote new climate-smart farming methods, and reduce the amount of water and energy that farmers use. The maize, beans, rice, potatoes, fruit and palm oil sub-sectors are priorities for action.

Field research is underway on more than 800 plots across the country. In 2013, over 90 training and planning workshops took place, and involved more than 1200 participants from a range of organizations.

“Colombia … knows that a timely response to climate change can turn the threat into an opportunity, and make its economy stronger and less volatile. The country is leading the way to the agriculture of the future by making the whole sector ‘climate-smart’.” Andy Jarvis, CCAFS Theme Leader, Long-Term Adaptation

Among other things, the MADR-CIAT agreement has fostered action research that is helping farmers to use less irrigation water, an important move as water shortages become more common. Another promising activity is an exchange programme with Senegal, focused on providing agro-climatic forecasts to Colombian farmers.