The Meyer family from Anitapolis, Santa Catarina, southern Brazil
A rude awakening by geese screaming at my door was not the way I envisioned starting my day. With temperatures near freezing, the 6.00 AM milking session seemed a daunting first task in my 12-hour internship as a family farmer in Santa Catarina, Brazil.
« Ne perdez pas votre temps avec des programmes locaux d’amélioration génétique si quelqu’un peut améliorer les semences pour vous. Nous sommes un petit pays, et n’avons pas les moyens de réinventer la roue ». C’était un conseil pragmatique d’un agronome bhoutanais en visite en Bolivie il y a quelques années. Sa déclaration pourrait s’avérer véridique principalement dans les pays aux réserves financières limitées. Cependant, je crois fermement que la mise en œuvre d’innovations agricoles exigent un rapprochement du global au local dans le cadre d’un partenariat mutuel, avec de fortes capacités mises en place sur le terrain. En voici un exemple.
“Don’t waste your time in local breeding programs if someone else can improve the seed for you. We are a small country and cannot afford to reinvent the wheel”. This was the pragmatic advice of a Bhutanese agro-scientist visiting Bolivia a few years ago. His statement might be true, especially in resource-limited countries. However, I strongly believe that implementing agricultural innovations requires bridging the global with the local in a two-way partnership, with strong capabilities in the field. Here's a good example.
In 2016, Colombia has the opportunity to make history. After more than three years of negotiations, the country is very close to achieving an “Agreement to terminate the conflict and build stable, lasting peace,” which will put an end to the internal armed and social conflict which has lasted for over 50 years, the longest in Latin America.
For those working on land management issues within the conflict context, there is a success story that I think is truly worth sharing. This is the story of Colombia, and how technical expertise combined with political momentum led to a truly unique policy that is positively affecting lives.
I will never forget the day in 2003 as I stood in Cajamarca, a beautiful city nestled within the Andes Mountains of Colombia, looking at the tired faces of families who had been forcibly displaced from their land by conflict. What previously I had only seen from figures and tables, was now presented before me in all its human form.
“When the company let us down, we only imposed a fine. We must be firm with companies and with vendors, otherwise they fail to fulfill their end. This is how to move the project forward”. This testimony impressed me a lot when I heard it from an indigenous woman in Bolivia, who was proud to be part of the steering committee and defend the interests of the community in the project.
Bolivia has a terrific success story to tell about encouraging rural women to take the lead in their communities and organizations and lift themselves and their families out of poverty.
Imagine being forced to flee your home at gunpoint in the middle of the night to escape impending violence, taking only what you can carry or perhaps only what you are wearing. This was the situation for many residents of Montes de Maria in the Caribbean region of Colombia during the early 2000s.
I, along with several World Bank staff and 74 participants from around the globe, had an opportunity to visit this region and hear from the formerly displaced residents themselves, not just about their experience of fleeing, but also about their opportunity to return home. Thanks to an ambitious program of the government of Colombia to restitute land to internally displaced people (IDPs), of which there are an estimated 3-5 million remaining, many families in this part of Colombia have returned to their land are now able to farm, raise cattle, and nurture their families and communities.