The Colombian National Platform, led by Solidaridad and supported by the Global Coffee Platform, has developed a project among 600 Colombian coffee producers to raise awareness on two main challenges in coffee farming: recovery and care of soil. “Field Days” is a successful initiative organized for different communities in the regions of Cauca, Risaralda and Valle.
Several topics were covered during this workshop: erosion, the effect of the rain on crops, bad agricultural practices, loss of the organic matter and how issues with acidity affect not only the productivity, but the sustainability in coffee farms.
A different approach
“The motto was little information and lots of fun,” explained Juan Manuel Cornejo, Project Coordinator of the Solidaridad coffee program in Colombia, who led the initiative. These were whole days of playful activities, organized for the communities and with their help, in which the protagonists were children, women and men of coffee-growing families.
The idea was very simple: no power point, or classrooms, nor chairs, or boards. Everything revolved around stations through which the attendees moved and in which it was verified why what they say about taking care of the ground, is not only important but it is true. Communities of the Municipalities of Sierra, Rosas, Cajibío, Dovio and Marsella ended the Field days with a short but important message: “The soil is easy to lose and very difficult to recover, that is why we must conserve it”.
Solidaridad Colombia believes that people are moved by emotions. Therefore, “Field Days” has as central idea the use of practical experiences that allow farmers and their families to have fun and be surprised simultaneously. At the rhythm of Chirimías (local groups that played folk music), the attendees went through stations such as the Soil Factory one, where they had to scrape two stones for 5 minutes and weigh the waste that this produced.
Then they calculated how much it can take nature to produce one hectare of land 20 cm deep. Although the results varied from 120 to 700 years, it was clear that the process is anything but quick. Another station called Erosion due to rain and poor coverage consisted of watering two caissons, one filled only with soil and the other with soil protected with plant coverings such as grass and leaves. As a result, the water coming out of the first drawer carried all the earth with it, while second drawer came out as clean as it had entered, demonstrating the difference of the effects of rain on protected and unprotected soils.
Those kind of initiatives provides Solidaridad a better tool to connect with the farmers in an entertaining way, considering that the Platform’s priority goes beyond complying with good practices but to go one step further and make farmers understand why it is important to fulfill them.
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