This article first appeared in Spanish in Colombia’s national newspaper El Tiempo, on Tuesday, 9th February, 2016.
I was a teenager when I first learned about the civil war in Colombia. I heard the news on the radio in my native Uruguay.
Five decades later, we are approaching an historic moment as Colombia moves closer to peace. Here, and across Latin America and the wider world, there is enormous hope.
At CIAT we’re hopeful because the prospect of peace brings unprecedented opportunities for rural development. It’s a chance to share the advances Colombia has made in the last decades – in science, technology, and environmental stewardship – with farmers across the country.
These include innovations developed by CIAT and our many partners and friends here in the country. It could be our climate-smart livestock systems, or our work to restore degraded land. It could be our advances in rice breeding that have resulted many new, high-quality varieties with resistance to pests and diseases. Or it could be our work to connect all kinds of food producers to lucrative markets in the country, Latin America, and beyond – something particularly important for like cacao and other high-value fruits.
The prospect of peace brings unprecedented opportunities for rural development. It’s a chance to share the advances Colombia has made in the last decades – in science, technology, and environmental stewardship – with farmers across the country.Ruben Echeverría
We have a shared interest in establishing Colombia as a regional leader in productive, profitable, sustainable agriculture – and as a food producer of global importance. To achieve that, scientific progress needs to reach all parts of the countryside. That includes our own achievements here, but also new advances that have been tried and tested elsewhere that we can help to share.
Ultimately, at the heart of everything CIAT does is not crops or livestock; it’s people. It’s the coffee producers who we should thank every morning for our tintos; the cassava growers for our pandebonos; the rice farmers and cattle producers for our bandeja paisas; all of the hardworking farmers across the country. Many of us will never know the struggles they have been through to put food on their tables – and ours.
Today at CIAT we will welcome very special visitors from the European Union, which is committed to supporting peaceful, rural development in Colombia. They are serious about it. And so are we. Together we are hopeful that the many farmers affected by conflict will soon be able enjoy the dividends of peace through sustainable agriculture.
That’s why we will all be tuned-in over the coming weeks to hear what we all hope will be the best news in decades: the beginning of an inclusive, prosperous peace in a country with enormous potential.
Ruben G. Echeverría
Director-General, International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)