The field trip day has been the most exciting activity promoted by the Second Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development (GCARD2) so far. Not just because we had the opportunity to find out about agricultural production in Uruguay, but also because we could learn a little bit more about the country itself and interact with people from all over the world closely, by sharing points of view over the work that had been done in the meeting during the past two days.
After the buses left the Conrad Hotel yesterday morning, we made our way to the Montevideo countryside. During the journey through Punta del Este’s roads to the Rincón del Colorado zone, our guide, Roberto Zoppolo, introduced us to the local landscapes, agriculture, weather, and Uruguayan fauna and flora.
I had chosen Circuit 5, entitled ‘Sustainable Production’. Our first stop was at the Wilson Ferreira Aldunate experimental station at the Uruguayan National Institute Agricultural Research (INIA), based in Las Brujas.
Zoppolo, who also is director of the INIA National Research Program on Fruit Production, told SciDev.Net: “Our rural development programmes focus on social and environmental sustainability, by ensuring the food security of smallholder farmers”.
INIA has four others experimental stations around the country, including Salto Grande, in Camino al Terrible, and La Estanzuela, in Colonia.
We saw some of the work being done by the institute in the field of horticulture, as well as onion crops adapted to different growing seasons and production areas.
After our trip to INIA, we visited the Solari family, who introduced us to a new method of plague control that uses pheromones to prevent its reproduction. The women living there also shared with us their experiences in fruit production.
Our visit to the Zunino family involved finding out how soils are preserved to achieve sustainability. The family uses a technique known as crop rotation on their farm, which helps to preserve soil quality while reducing the incidence of plagues and soils diseases.
It was good take part in this circuit to understand how some partnerships are going on and how governmental institutions are dealing with the smallholder real problems and concerns.
By the end of the day, everybody was exhausted and starving as well. So it was good to know that a barbecue was waiting for us at the Estancia Siglo XX. We witnessed a lovely sunset, accompanied by good food and conversation.
This blog post is part of our coverage of GCARD 2012, which takes place on 29 October–1 November 2012 in Punta del Este, Uruguay. To read news and analysis on agricultural research please visit our website.