For 2 days, climate change was the topic of discussion at the Eighth International Congress on Sustainable Rural Development, which took place in Palmira, Valle.

Organized by the municipality as part of the 41st National Agricultural Fair, the event attracted key CIAT scientists, who shared the Center´s work on different aspects of climate change and discussed strategies for mitigation and adaptation.

In the opening session, Fernando Correa, leader of CIAT´s Rice Program, discussed challenges and opportunities for agriculture, calling for redoubled efforts to narrow the gaps in terms of technology, productivity, institutions, poverty, other social conditions, and competitiveness.

Jeimar Tapasco, an environmental economist in CIAT´s Decision and Policy Analysis (DAPA) Research Area, gave a talk about climate and its effects on agriculture and livestock production, and also took part in a panel discussion moderated by former minister of agriculture and rural development, Juan Camilo Restrepo.

In this discussion, Tapasco described work on adapting Colombia´s agriculture to climate change, carried out by the Ministries of Agriculture and Rural Development, and the Environment and Sustainable Development, with support from farmer associations, such as the National Federation of Cereal and Legume Producers (Fenalce, its acronym in Spanish) and the National Rice Growers Federation (Fedearroz).

Tapasco also called attention to CIAT´s collaboration with the Autonomous Regional Corporation of the Cauca Valley (CVC) and Administrative Department for Environmental Management (DAGMA). This work resulted in the publication last March of a portfolio of adaptive measures for eight municipalities in the department of Valle, three municipal inventories of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, an analysis of the vulnerability of the coffee sector, and an evaluation of the potential for generating electricity using alternative energy sources.

Big Data in agriculture

CIAT´s experience as a pioneer in applying Big Data Analytics (which involves analysis of large data sets to discover hidden patterns) to agricultural science was presented at the congress by agronomist Daniel Jiménez.

In a presentation titled The democratization of Big Data through extension services to close yield gaps and adapt agriculture to climate variability, Jiménez discussed notable progress in Colombia´s rice sector, made possible by work based on this concept.

In the science exhibit of the Eighth International Congress on Sustainable Rural Development – titled Climate Change: S.O.S. for Life – a team from the Molecular Genetics and Tissue Culture Laboratory of CIAT´s Agrobiodiversity Research Area shared projects titled Bioaprendiz (bioapprentice) and Biotechnology in the Classroom, which generated much interest among participants in the event, as did DAPA´s exhibit on climate change simulation models.

“We know little about the importance of climate change and about how to address it responsibly, especially in agriculture and livestock production. Listening to the speakers share their experiences was very important, because it made us aware of research being carried out by different organizations, not only in Colombia, but throughout the region,” said Jairo Ortega Samboní, mayor of Palmira.

The farmers, technicians, and students attending also heard presentations by Guillermo Prieto Palacios, a climate change expert from the Ministry of the Environment and Sustainable Development; Andrea Amalia Ramos, with the Colombian Institute of Agriculture and Livestock (ICA); Diana Lucía Correa, with the Colombian Corporation for Agriculture and Livestock Research (Corpoica); Manuel Rodríguez Becerra, former minister of the environment; and Antonio Yelpi Aguilar, with Chile´s Center on Studies for Popular Democracy (Cedepu), among other experts.

“This congress was designed to provide a better grasp and generate greater public awareness of what climate change is and is not, and offer people tools that help them understand how they can contribute to climate change mitigation. And this is exactly what the event accomplished,” said Gerardo Gallego, the CIAT researcher who was responsible for developing the academic and scientific agenda of the congress.

Workshop for journalists

CIAT helped organize the Second Regional Meeting of Journalists together with a workshop titled The Challenge of Communicating Science, with science journalist Lisbeth Fog present as a special guest. The workshop was attended by 40 journalists from the department of Valle.

CIAT at the Palmira agricultural fair

The people of Palmira had an opportunity to get to know more about CIAT´s research through the Center´s institutional exhibit at the Álvaro Domínguez Vallecilla fairgrounds. Including samples of beans, cassava, and tropical forages.

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