CHAMPIONS OF CIAT

Lizette Díaz: a charcoal that could open a ‘black box’

Lizette Díaz is Industrial Engineer from the Julio Garavito Colombian School of Engineering, and Master in Administration with an emphasis in finance from the National University of Palmira. She is currently a research associate of the Sustainable Food Systems Program and coordinates an innovative royalties’ project in Valle del Cauca, Colombia, which consolidated three research and development plans (for Hass avocado, pineapple and blackberry value chains of the department) in collaboration with the National University, Universidad del Valle, and Agrosavia, among other institutions. These plans are a very important contribution to the Colombian national system of Science, Technology and Innovation, since they become an updated and well-nourished roadmap for those investigations that seek to respond to the competitiveness gaps of these chains. That’s why Lizette is a champion of CIAT.

Delicacy, fragility, versatility and great expressive capacity describe charcoal – a soft coal, almost powder, used for sketching or drawing. At 18 Lizette thought the charcoal was going to stay in her life: she loved drawing and planned to be an architect. But she stopped drawing and ended up pursuing a very different career, without realizing that the charcoal had remained inside her soul to draw chiaroscuros through poetry.

«Life is a road with shades of madness, some drops of tears and moments of sanity»é…With the same versatility of charcoal, Lizette sketched that road throughout Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, and Spain; but as clinging to her farm as to her pen, she returned to Tunía, Cauca, at age 26, after the death of her father, her grandmother and several other disappointments: «If pain is a science, I am tired of exploring it, with exceptional patience have I tried to endure it.»é

She took a chance in the industrial, transport, agricultural, construction, and service sectors … until she found her place in Agroinnova, an agribusiness incubator of which she has been part since its founding in 2005. There she took out once more her pen, but this time to formulate and document projects, in addition to contributing to the organizational strengthening of numerous agribusiness initiatives that worked with innovative products such as edible snails, quinoa and honey-derived cosmetics. «And although life shows us the importance of our story, we give more importance to the daily rush that overwhelms us…»é

In July, 2017, a tangential relationship in which Lizette had been with CIAT for more than a decade finally crystallized, and she joined the Sustainable Food Systems Program to coordinate the development of three sectoral strategies and their respective research agendas, aimed at healing the technological gaps in the hillside Hass avocado, pineapple, and blackberry value chains, in the department of Valle del Cauca. This project, nearing completion, has the challenge of overcoming the inertia of the shelves where so many bright publications rest, to fill the identified gaps. To achieve this, Lizette knows that “it is necessary to establish more open and transparent scientific dissemination schemes that include media in which the“ black box ”of Science, Technology and Innovation is opened to share as it is: a human activity that generates results, but that has also limitations»1.

For the time being, the chiaroscuro in her soul, her pen, and her number-crunching ability have brought her where she is. What will come next?

She would say: «Where are you? In a distant land or crossing the sea? Or so far from me, that I cannot reach? »é And He will answer: «Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, come with me. See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come. »ï

é Fragments of different poems written by Lizette –LD–

ï Song of Songs

1 Mosquera, DM. 2019.

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