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Providing sustainable growth for small-scale growers

Potatoes are the principal crop for the many thousands of small scale Columbian farmers in the highland region of Boyaca. After years of frequent cropping in tight rotation, pests and diseases have built up to the point where growers are increasingly reliant on the ever greater use of crop protection products to achieve economic yields of a marketable quality crop.

To ensure that growers were using the products in an appropriate and sustainable farming system, an innovative programme was developed to train farmers and certify their new skills with local authority endorsement.

The three year has already nearly achieved it’s target  to train 45,000 growers to the approved standard. The training, principally supplied in alliance with local authorities and farmer associations. It is aimed at small scale potato and corn growers who typically have less than 3 hectares of cropped land.

The training is specifically aimed to ensure growers make the best of crop protection products within their management programmes and ensure they are used safely.

Participants are judged on their adoption of good practices which is currently running at an improved 60%. Training tools include booklets, posters and a series of presentations to use in training sessions. Also provided is protective clothing and plasticized cards to remind growers of key points during every day operations and crop management aids.The project opens the possibility for the sale of certified produce from growers across the region.