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martes, 29 de septiembre 2020
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Plant clones, an alternative to illicit crops

by Jennifer Restrepo de la Pava

The Government of Antioquia and Universidad de Antioquia are joining efforts to substitute illicit crops using cocoa tree seedlings of high genetic and phytosanitary quality produced at UdeA’s Center for Innovation and Territorial Integration – CEDAIT -.

The visit of the Secretary of Agriculture and Development of Antioquia took place on January 30, 2020

Replacing coca crops with cocoa plants is the strategy through which the Colombian government and the academic sector intend to improve agricultural productivity and competitiveness in rural areas of the department of Antioquia, Colombia. The strategy is aimed at encouraging small-scale producers to remain in their territories and reduce income inequality between producers of Antioquia’s capital city Medellín, and those living in rural areas of the Antioquia department.

The cocoa seedlings used to substitute illegal crops are clones of high-quality specimens in order to produce crops of the highest genetic and phytosanitary quality. The plant material is part of a group of 12 plants that were cloned using cutting-edge technology at the Center for Innovation and Territorial Integration at Universidad de Antioquia.

With his visit to CEDAIT facilities, the Antioquia’s Secretary of Agriculture and Development Rodolfo Andrés Correa, reaffirmed his interest in working hand in hand with the academic sector and providing small-scale farmers with effective alternatives to substitute illicit crops.

“This demonstrates the importance of applied scientific research for local development, so we want UdeA to be our main ally. Technology can help people live better, and therefore, we must use it for that purpose through the transfer of knowledge effectively and efficiently”, said the Secretary of Agriculture during his visit.

CEDAIT facilities are equipped with specialized infrastructure for the production and commercialization of certified plant material. It also has an Expert Information and Communication System that facilitates the transfer of knowledge for small and medium-scale farmers. Photographs by Juan Pablo Hernández

CEDAIT is capable of producing sufficient plant material (five to seven million seedlings per year) with the highest quality standards, which facilitates production and leads to more efficient crops.

«This technology allows us to clone plants that are genetically identical to the original specimen, ensuring that they easily adapt to the new environment. Our laboratories are equipped to carry out all the necessary tests so that the end user can obtain the appropriate plants and know how to properly manage the crop”, said UdeA rector John Jairo Arboleda.

CEDAIT researchers also seek to improve crop health through natural pest control and soil evaluation. Factors such as effective soil nutrition and the use of adequate materials for soil stabilization are key to produce successful, high quality crops.

In vitro propagation and ex vitro rooting of cocoa tree seedlings at CEDAIT laboratories. Photo by Juan Pablo Hernández

Agriculture is Colombia's main asset. Colombian cocoa is known for its fine flavor and aroma, making it a very attractive and coveted product in European markets.

The municipality of Turbo, in Colombia's northwestern Uraba region, is one of the main agricultural producers in the country. “In Uraba we intend to innovate through the university-industry-government partnership. We aim to develop a regional entrepreneurship center as well as an innovation and research center by joining forces with Universidad de Antioquia”, said Turbo mayor Andrés Felipe Maturana.

For his part, UdeA rector said “the mayor of Turbo is interested in using technology and innovation to boost agricultural productivity. Our purpose is to improve the quality of crops and reduce costs through the use of technology, therefore, we are willing to support the mayor in his goal of promoting agricultural development and thus ensure that small producers also benefit from the profits of these products”.

Laboratories have the conditions necessary for clones to become seedlings

The initiative has strategic allies such as Universidad Católica de Oriente - which has extensive experience in the production and marketing of plant material -, and Compañía Nacional de Chocolates, Colombia’s leading chocolate manufacturer.

In addition to support cocoa propagation projects, UdeA’s CEDAIT is also responsible for a number of initiatives related to the propagation of plant, fruit, ornamental, forestry and vegetable materials.

CEDAIT headquarters. Photo by Juan Pablo Hernández

Sistema Único de Información de Trámites - SUIT
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