OK Ag Leadership Class 18 Returns from Central America with International Perspective of AgricultureMon, 12 Mar 2018 12:19:47 CDT
Director of the Oklahoma Agriculture Leadership Program Dr. Edmond Bonjour just returned from his latest international trip with Class XVIII of the program, during which they visited three nations in Central America including Costa Rica, Panama and Nicaragua. He visited with Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays upon his arrival to talk about some of the highlights of this trip and why international experiences like this are so important to the overall content of the program. Listen to their complete conversation by clicking or tapping the LISTEN BAR below at the bottom of the page.
“It’s very important so that they get a world perspective on how agriculture’s role is important in the whole infrastructure in the world,” Bonjour asserted. “We get to see different aspects of various farms and ranches. Some are similar to what we do here in the United States. Then, some like the pineapple and coffee plantations that we visit are just totally foreign to us.”
However, Bonjour says it is uncanny that these enterprises, despite their unique differences, are faced with many of the same issues that farmers deal with here at home; issues such as labor, transportation, infrastructure and marketing. He says it is eye-opening to see that on an international level.
Bonjour described some of the sites they visited including a coffee plantation where he says a crop can last up to 20 - 25 years with continuous production. Beans harvested from this particular operation are processed in a mill that was constructed in the 1870s. Another point of interest, was a pineapple plantation with incredible crop density at 65 - 75,000 plants per acre that produces two crops in a 13-month period.
Members of this year’s class also had the opportunity to visit the Panama Canal, an essential tool in agricultural trade worldwide. They also dropped in to see a joint collaboration between Panama and USDA-APHIS that breed and release sterile male screw worm flies that drive the total populations down to help control the incredibly harmful pest. This effort is reported to save the US industry $1 billion a year.
With the conclusion of this process, the current class will be moving towards graduation from the two-year program. Bonjour says the group is already searching for new applicants to fill their next class. Applications with more information on OALP are now available, here, and are due by May 1st.
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