The terrace of Ibagué is a gold mine

The terrace of Ibagué is a gold mine

By Gonzalo Palomino Ortiz

We are climbing dangerously towards the threshold of natural resources, the international market and satisfaction… but we are sitting on a gold mine and we will be responsible for our decisions.

We are climbing dangerously towards the threshold of natural resources, the international market and satisfaction… but we are sitting on a gold mine and we will be responsible for our decisions.

With the Biology students, during the two semesters of 2005 we have committed ourselves to an approach to the 40 thousand hectares cultivated in rice on the terrace of Ibagué. Each group repeatedly visited the same farm, spoke with the bosses, butlers and workers to visualize the environmental diagnosis, the history, the deficiencies, the advantages, the promising projects ... and the cobwebs with sustainability indicators were elaborated.

A book has been prepared on each farm, which we hope to improve, and on the whole we are working on drafts of something that could be an environmental policy for the terrace, based on successful projects.

The real situation is that costs, new international market regulations, difficult water, and environmental congestion force us to start the search for clean solutions, cheaper supplies and easier ways to "suck the cock" of the large animal that is about.
For more than fifty years the terrace has become a champion in rice monoculture: Here we know a lot, the most ... But we have an ecological offer, a tropical diversity and Berracas people who want to put their stamp on the Tolima future.
The turbulence of a butterfly in the Amazon can cause a storm in New York.

I.- Livestock alternative. Slowly, for a long time, a model of high intensity silvopastoral management, worthy of export, has been built. The model is visited by lots of groups from all over the country who come wanting to know, ask questions, and suddenly, to replicate the experience.

It is a system based on artfully designed paddocks in symmetrical rows with a mixture of Estrella grass (energy) and Leucaena (protein), where the cows indulge in free grazing, even when they stop their navels. This alternative design periodically receives contributions of poop that from the barn, by gravity, reaches a deposit, and is redistributed to the pastures liquefied and enriched with essential microorganisms (E.M.).
This has made it possible to reduce the number of days in which the pasture is revitalized, increase the heads per hectare, lower costs, eliminate concentrates and improve the health of the herd.

The permanent search for solutions, the rotation of pastures, the quality of the cows, the care of the calves, the organic fertilizer, the silvopastoral system and especially the protective presence of the chief in permanent communication with the cattle, has allowed to build a silvopastoral model of excellence, worth copying on all farms and exporting experiences.

II.- A forest of mouse killers. Among the flora of the tropical dry forest, one of the species not used to the maximum is the mouse killer, which is widely used as living fences on the Atlantic Coast, but we never turn it into food for livestock. Here on the terrace there is a forest, a true forage bank, more than ten years old, whose foliage is harvested periodically, transported to a plastic greenhouse and once dry, it is stored, or it is soon used to enrich the diet of the cattle , with very profitable results.

III.- Riparian forests. With the Spaniards we received those genes trained in function of the destruction of the forests: either to persecute the indigenous people, or to enable pastures, to extract firewood, charcoal and, to a lesser extent, wood.

In Tolima we add the whim of the pilots of the fumigation planes, who do not like the trees, and less the forests. They refuse to pollute near remnants of forests, pressuring their felling.

On the terrace there is a cultural change with respect to the forests and we have discussed the need and possibility of returning to the forests their other ecological functions: habitat, restaurant and furniture for birds, we insist that mammals live there, herbivores find food, butterflies make dormancy, biological control elements are saved, streams are born, the climate improves, trophic levels are reestablished ... rather, forests are our earthly paradise ... with sin included.

IV.- Vine cultivation. It was the first agronomic conquest of man, and on the terrace the knowledge and tradition of its cultivation are being recovered, of many varieties, flavors, colors, cycles and destinations. Its cultivation requires a lot of care but does not present major problems, it is in demand, the Tolima people like it, and wine never goes out of style ...

In addition, the experiences have made the crops grow very well with organic inputs, of those that can be manufactured on the farm, it provides employment for both sexes, it can generate transformations ... rather, it is another gold mine.

V.- Sugar cane with mill. After the Pajonales experience, the cultivation of sugarcane in the Tolima plan went out of fashion, the cause of the abandonment was never really investigated, but the experience and the genetic material are already being retaken with much satisfaction on the part of the producers. With the difference that now good use is made of the bagasse, the bud, all the organic leftovers, the honeys, the best machinery ... and more people are employed.

VI.- Stevia. The health of human beings is increasingly compromised with the amount of sugar consumed on a daily basis. The media does not stop calling attention to diabetes, aspartame, sweeteners ... and doctors massively prohibit consumption, and some products, such as yacon and stevia, make their way onto home tables.

The propaganda is very well supported by research on the subject and is openly promoted by supermarkets. We are facing an agricultural promise ... I hope the same does not happen with marijuana, which is now our turn to import it.
I think we have more than one hundred thousand plants, which we already know how to grow, we market them in dry leaves and plants are being installed to convert them into stevia sugar.

This plant is entering as an alternative for monoculture, a novelty for health, as a business for supermarkets and as savings for consumers.

VII.- Organic fique. The fique, its agronomy and its culture, have always been associated with the native culture that uses its fiber in the elaboration of sacks, hammocks, hammocks, ropes ... Its sap is very desired to elaborate a rich liquor with a long residual effect. The chemical properties of the juice are miraculous and popular wisdom abounds in recipes, uses, cures and preparations with herbicide properties ...

Now in the century of return to organic, European countries are also demanding handicrafts without contact with chemical poisons, they are opening the doors to imports without tariffs.

VIII.- Transform raw materials. There is no doubt that the transformation of raw materials is more profitable than cultivation or extraction; and on the terrace there are successful experiences, such as the conversion of milk into arequipes, production of organic fertilizer, medicinal plants, stevia sugar ...

It involves a bit of research and market studies to consolidate new processes: such as meats, cheeses, wines, natural products such as medicines, essences, ...

IX.- Ornamentals. We cannot forget that we are tropic, that our diversity is the most complex on the planet, that it exceeds six hundred species miscounted per hectare ... and that they are plants with aesthetic values, it is enough for us to find the right place, time and people.

Our ecological advantages, absence of seasons, albedo, precipitation, and proximity to the sun, give us advantages to discover, adapt, improve and cultivate a large number of beautiful and absent species in the northern hemisphere. History records the war of the orchids that patented the expropriation of Colombian genetic material.

X.- Social fish farming. In some farms, with friendship pacts between employers and workers, fish are sown, raised and harvested for collective consumption, a system that could be improved and become micro-enterprises to produce food and income.

With a little effort, this could be the beginning of an ornamental fish industry.

This must go hand in hand with the breeding of easy-to-domesticate species to open up spaces and disseminate the experiences achieved in peacocks, deer and all those animals and plants that are a good complement in a general policy of substitution of agricultural traditions.

* By Gonzalo Palomino Ortiz
Tolima Ecological Group / THE NEW DAY

Video: Conocí la ciudad musical de Colombia ME ENCANTÓ! (May 2021).