“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.
Agriculture and Rural Development
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.
Soon will be January 1, 2015. Most of us will make New Year’s resolutions and most of us will fail to keep them. Keeping New Year’s resolutions is hard. But it turns out that we are much more likely to make good on our resolutions if we decide to build upon our strengths rather than focus on fixing what’s wrong. This insight is all the more important if we combine it with the intriguing view that it is the depth of our strengths, not the absence of weaknesses, which makes us successful. People are successful not because they are perfect but because they have deep strengths. What if this was also the case for countries?
With this in mind I turn my attention to some of the strengths of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, three countries that have recently put together their “Plan of the Alliance for Prosperity in the Northern Triangle.” The Plan is in part a response to the well-known security challenges facing those countries and the challenges posed by the surge in unaccompanied migrant children but it is also an opportunity to focus on the strengths of the Northern Triangle of Central America and how to develop them even further. And when one goes beyond the headlines one discovers a variety of success stories.
While driving around rural areas of Puno in Peru, Caaguazú in Paraguay or Granada in Nicaragua, do not be surprised to see women lifting rocks from the roads and using shovels and picks alongside men. In fact, in the past 15 years, the number of women that have joined organizations in charge of routine road maintenance in Latin America has increased significantly and with this their life conditions have improved dramatically.
- Umbrella Facility for Gender Equality
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- Agriculture and Rural Development
- Latin America & Caribbean
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- Venezuela, Republica Bolivariana de