CIAT’s Andy Jarvis was delighted to get surprise chance to talk to Colombia’s president Alvaro Uribe about the organisation’s “revolutionary” new fruit project, last week.
Uribe, who leaves office this week after completing two consecutive terms as president, visited CIAT and Asohofrucol’s exhibition stand at the Agro Del Pacífico 2010 trade fair at the three-day event in Cali on Friday, amid tight security.
Jarvis was able to give the president an overview of the recently launched Site-Specific Agriculture Based on Farmer’s Experiences (SSAFE) project, led by CIAT and Asohocfrucol and supported by a range of partners. The ambitious initiative will compile and interpret detailed agricultural information from thousands of fruit farmers across Colombia, in order to produce a knowledge bank to help them improve production. You can see a short press release here, and a preliminary announcement of the project here.
Jarvis described President Uribe as amiable and engaging. “He was very polite and seemed genuinely interested in what we’re doing,” said the Decision and Policy Analysis program leader.
“With the SSAFE project, we’re aiming high for a major change in Colombia’s fruit sector, which will result in enormous social benefits, higher profits and improved, more eco-efficient production. I think any head of state would be interested in a project with so much potential.”
It’s not the first time Jarvis and Uribe have been in contact. Last year Jarvis received an official letter of congratulation from the president, after winning the Ebbe Nielsen Award 2009 for innovative use of bioinformatics in biodiversity conservation.
Stay tuned for more on the SSAFE project, as CIAT prepares to hit the road in Colombia and recruit thousands of farmers into the scheme.