Monday, November 08, 2010

Travel to the new agricultural frontier in Colombia: the high plains

Sunday, November 7th, 2010 | Posted by admin

Colombian Altillanura

The potential is huge with products such as pineapple, corn and soybeans.

There are six million hectares between Meta and Vichada and large pantry would be the new country.

A vast plain that begins in Puerto López (Meta) and extends for about six million hectares are emerging as the new agricultural frontier of Colombia.

And some experts believe that in the near future will ensure food security, self-sufficiency for the food industry and the generation of bioenergy in the country.

As a territory level and easily machinable, the high plain, as it is called, “is already attracting national and foreign investors interested in developing large-scale industrial projects.

The first steps to turn these thousands of hectares of soil salinity and heavy acid and aluminum in fertile land began to show 40 years ago.

The urgency of good pasture for livestock feed to improve forced to accelerate scientific research.

It was then that experts Colombian Agricultural Institute (ICA) and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) started Carimagua a series of experiments with grasses for the tropics.

After a decade of work did develop decumbes Brachiaria, a grass that allowed not only to increase the charge per acre from one to six animals but also helps improve the soil.

With African grasses

This ‘miracle’ was achieved by evaluating hundreds of varieties of grasses, mostly from Africa but especially with the implementation of corrective to the land, said Jaime Triana Restrepo, regional director of CORPOICA.

Were eliminated lime acidity and high levels of aluminum, which made it unfeasible any planting, due to its high toxicity.

But these soils poor in organic matter and low in phosphorus, were also enriched with gypsum and rock phosphate.

This was coupled with a proper crop rotation. “So we constructed soils,” Triana says proudly.

Thanks to this, today, vast sheets look like giant ‘sea’ green where large quantities of corn, soybeans, rice and grass on a large scale.

“The ICA is focused on the science and pastures, CORPOICA worked in soybean, maize and minimum tillage and zero tillage and this led to the preparation of appropriate systems that allowed us to land, no more earthworks and gave way to incorporation of biomass in the soil, “says Triana.

Thus, the story that the plain was only produced landscapes left behind.

The private sector was quick to get involved and provided technology, especially Brazil.

And thanks to this process now, in a part of the altillanaura metense says Samuel Caicedo, researcher CORPOICA, there is a fertile, well formed, with all indicators of phosphorus nutrition and databases that enable better crop response.

For example, in Puerto Lopez corn can be found with a productivity of 5 to 6 tons per hectare, where five years ago to barely reached 3, and each half is cultivated soybean and upland rice.

Already, foreign investment

Today, between Puerto Lopez and Puerto Gaitan over 100,000 hectares of land changed. In many of these abundant crops of corn, soybeans, rubber, sugarcane, forestry (pine, teak, eucalyptus), upland rice and palm and investment projects there are at least 37,000 hectares for planting.

“What this shows is that the alliance of the productive sector and science and technology can transform barren and unproductive land in fertile soil,” says Triana.

The most striking transformation of the high plain, says researcher Caicedo, crops are sugar cane and rubber, due to its great development, but also others such as soy and corn, which although intended for feeding pigs and poultry aim to obtain meat for human consumption.

And the green revolution is just beginning, because the experts involved say they still lack much knowledge on what other crops could be taken in this region. Although the Vichada still everything to do.

The enormous potential of the high plain, which has been seen by a handful of Colombian investors to exploit some 50,000 hectares today, also because investors are taking advantage of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil and the United States, which along with nationals now working in the ‘ construction ‘of more land in this vast area of the country.

‘The Plantation’, a success story

At mile 93 of the way Puerto López-Puerto Gaitán, the look is lost in a ‘sea’ of soybeans and corn.

A small sign, not more than 50 cm by 50 cm, identified with the name of ‘The Plantation’ an industrial complex of five farms totaling 32,000 hectares.

Born seven years ago by the hand of 28 Colombian industrial dreamed of having a farm self-sufficient in corn and soybean production, in order to feed pigs and to supply the domestic market.

And now ‘The Plantation’ raises more than 400,000 hogs per year, as lean meat is described by connoisseurs as it is delicious and highly nutritious.

Only this complex now has 5,200 sows and design stage is the most modern refrigerator for pigs in South America, whose investment is estimated at $ 25 million, including slaughter plants, cutting, sausage and flour from the by-products . And in the near future hopes to develop lines of poultry and livestock.

‘Only powerful’: a critical look

Bribery Eudoro Álvarez, professor at the Universidad de los Llanos and former candidate for governor of Meta, believes that this ambitious project is the problem that leaves out small farmers.

“They are not able to invest in the recovery of land or wait for their productivity and / or recovery. This is for those who have much money,” he said.

He adds that these ‘powerful’ not only won the appreciation of the earth-hectare cost 500,000 dollars today is worth 3 million, but had access to government subsidies.

The ‘bio’ booming

Today, the department of Meta is the largest palm oil producer, with 120,000 hectares planted, and the region is projected as the most important for the production of biodiesel from the palm and jatropha, and fuel alcohol (ethanol ) from sugar cane, cassava and sweet sorghum. The governor of Meta signed an agreement with Brazil to pursue this issue.

In addition, Ecopetrol and its subsidiary Bioenergy S. A. planning to build a plant to produce ethanol from sugar cane, which is planned to plant 12,000 hectares of cane between Puerto Lopez and Puerto Gaitan.

Source : El Tiempo

Tags: "is already attracting national and foreign investors interested in developing large-scale industrial projects. The first steps to turn these thousands of hectares of soil salinity and heavy acid and , As a territory level and easily machinable, as it is called, the high plain, Travel to the new agricultural frontier in Colombia: the high plains

No comments: