Enhancing capacity to deliver impact

J. Urrea (CCAFS)

Warm welcome: Colombia hosts adaptation learning exchanges for Senegal

East Africa
West Africa
Climate-Smart Technologies and Practices

Learning exchanges are a powerful tool, allowing people to see first hand what works in countries facing similar challenges. In May 2014, 16 delegates from Senegal’s Ministry of Agriculture, Presidential Council, Parliament, local authorities, meteorological agency, research centres, extension services and farmers travelled to Colombia. This was the return leg of a successful South–South exchange in 2013, facilitated by CCAFS, to provide opportunities for people from Honduras, Colombia and Senegal to share strategies for adapting to climate variability with each other.

The visit provided a wealth of learning for the Senegalese visitors. They were particularly interested in the agricultural practices of Colombia’s indigenous people, who cultivate a large variety of fruits and vegetables using organic fertilizers and pesticides. While visiting the seed bank at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), the Senegalese delegation presented baobab seeds as a gift of friendship.

Participants in a Senegal–Colombia exchange share their knowledge, experiences and lessons learned to face the challenges of climate change

Participants in a Senegal–Colombia exchange share their knowledge, experiences and lessons learned to face the challenges of climate change. J. L. Urrea (CCAFS)

The Colombian delegation found this South–South learning exchange a valuable process. The 2013 visit to Senegal’s Kaffrine region led to the establishment of 3 pilot projects to provide seasonal forecasting. The recent visit inspired the Colombia Presidential Agency of International Cooperation to establish a formal cooperative arrangement between Colombia and several African countries on agriculture and climate change.

“What continues to bind us closer are our efforts to combat climate change and food security. Every nation in the world has its difficulties, especially relating to climate change and agriculture production. That is why it is important we share our experiences together in order to improve our quality of life.” Francisco Fuentes Meneses, Mayor of Popayan, the capital of the Cauca, Colombia

Just a few months later, in July 2014, a delegation of representatives from Ghana, Kenya and Senegal travelled to Colombia. They visited the national associations of producers of grains and beans, rice and sugar cane. As well as functioning as platforms to amplify the voices of producers, these associations lead important research into climate-smart agriculture.

For example, the National Federation of Grains and Beans Producers (FENALCE) is currently working with CCAFS and CIAT to breed high-yielding, disease- and drought-tolerant varieties of maize that are well adapted to the changing climate in different regions of Colombia. This research is carried out at various research stations owned by FENALCE and partly financed by them.

The Colombian Sugarcane Growers Association (ASOCAÑA) has established a research institute in collaboration with the sugar and ethanol mills. Important advances have resulted, such as developing and identifying breeds for increased sugar content, disease resistance, drought tolerance, water efficiency and a reduced water footprint, and breeds which can be more easily processed for milling.

The role these associations are playing in scientific crop research, and the resulting contribution to food security for smallholder farmers in Colombia, impressed the African visitors and was one of the important lessons they took home to share with their own governments.