Last week I had the honor and pleasure of presenting at the national conference on cacao and coffee organized by INIA in Piura, Peru. It was an intense three-day conference, but it was really great to be able to hear about some of the research that is going on in Peru as well as learn about some of the difficulties and obstacles that the research staff have to overcome. One of the most interesting things that one of the INIA scientists brought up was that we were 4 women and 1 man sitting at the ‘honor table’. 80% representation by women in this field is a really big deal and a sign of progress, especially in a country that is still quite machista (chauvinistic). It was nice to be a part of the change.
It was also especially nice to be one of the three invited international speakers, with the two others being superstar coffee and cacao agroecosystem research scientists from CATIE, Costa Rica. Dr. Reinhold Muschler was one of those invited speakers. He has written a lot regarding shade agroforestry systems and its potential for climate change adaptation. It’s always nice to meet someone who’s work you’ve read and cited. He gave two great presentations both of which had a lot in common with the ones I gave. In general the theme from the invited speaker presentations was on sustainable and conservation oriented agriculture. Not only looking at a plantation as an agricultural system, but also looking at it as one that can provide multiple ecosystem services.
Overall, I met a lot of great scientists at the meeting and hope to develop collaborations with them in the future. Let’s see if the first one of these could be studying the native pollinators in cacao. 🙂