Two recent conservation agriculture (CA) events in Sonora, Mexico, attracted more than 20 farmers and technicians, and marked the beginning of a new CA technician certification course.
On April 13, the day of the first event, experienced CA farmers shared their knowledge with other farmers who were considering CA adoption. “If you are a good farmer, if you are innovative, you’re not to going to have problems with CA,” said Mayo Félix, who has extensive experience farming with CA. “You have CIMMYT’s support and ours.”
CIMMYT CA experts Jesús Mendoza and Dagoberto Flores led the event, which was the second of what will be a series of monthly CA meeting for local farmers in the Mexican Pacific zone who collaborate with CIMMYT and host CA modules in their land. The expectation is that the meetings will be a venue for farmers to exchange ideas and suggestion to improve their practices. “Conservation agriculture is good and has many advantages,” said farmer Héctor Aguilar, “but we, as farmers, must keep up-to-date on CA.”
Since training and knowledge is key to successful CA adoption, CIMMYT’s Conservation Agriculture Program designed a CA technician certification course. The first part of this one-year certification course took place on 22 April at the Norman E. Borlaug Experiment Station (CENEB) in Sonora. The day focused on the primary steps for summer crops—such as sorghum and maize—and included topics such as good residue management, proper fertilization, irrigation, weed control, and how to remake beds. Course leaders used a CIMMYT designed multiuse-multipurpose machine to demonstrate these steps; the same machine is used by several farmer unions, such as USPRUSS, UCHC, UCAC, and UCAY, whose representatives were among the certification course attendees.
Bram Govaerts, leader of CA efforts in Mexico, said that at the end of the one-year course participants will take a hands-on exam in a CA plot and will be required to establish two CA modules with their farmer-clients. Those who successfully fulfill these requirements will become CA certified technicians and will have access to CIMMYT facilities, including the long-term plots, which they will be able to use as a training platform.
Attendees agreed that the day was very helpful, especially the machinery demonstrations. The course was coordinated by CIMMYT with assistance from the Mexican National Institute of Forestry, Agriculture, and Livestock (INIFAP), Mexico’s national wheat marketer’s organization (CONATRIGO), the Patronato for Research and Agricultural Experimentation of the State of Sonora (PIEAES), and the Association of Agriculture Organizations of Southern Sonora ( AOASS), and with support from Fundación Produce Sonora.
Special thanks to CA team members for their help with the events: Jesús Mendoza, Nele Verhulst, Manuel Ruiz, Jesús Gutiérrez, Beatriz Martínez, Juan de Dios Sánchez, Álvaro Cermeño, Luz Paola López, Zita Gallardo, and CENEB superintendent Rodrigo Rascón.