The Colombian National Federation of Coffee Growers (FNC) organized a first virtual national field day for farmers. HarvestPlus participated in this event of technological knowledge transfer that aimed, under the current circumstances of social distancing due to COVID-19, to share with coffee growers the benefits of the coordinated growing of biofortified beans and coffee. 

More than 240 producers from all parts of the country connected for two hours to the first national virtual field day through Zoom and learned first-hand the recommendations and benefits of planting biofortified beans alternated with coffee. The field day was structured in seven virtual stations, where important topics such as the nutritional and agronomic characteristics of bean variety bio101, the importance of beans in the diet, and the management of beans as a crop associated with coffee were presented.

Traditionally, these field days are held at the Federation’s experimental stations, such as the La Catalina experimental station. It was at this station last year that the first hybrid zinc maize for Colombia was released for cultivation by coffee growers from all over the country. This year due to the pandemic, the event had to be held over the internet. 

This field day is part of the close cooperation between HarvestPlus and the FNC that, since 2019, has been promoting the planting of biofortified crops alongside coffee, especially at times of crop renewal. The FNC decided to continue with the issues of food and nutritional security as a strategic focus. 

“We have now found new varieties such as those promoted by HarvestPlus and the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT,” said the FNC Technical Manager, Hernando Duque. 

Jairo Arcos, a member of the HarvestPlus’ crop development team, said at the field day: “One of the best productive alternatives for coffee growers when it comes to renewing their coffee plantations is the bean, because it is a crop that fits their needs. First, because it is not such a big plant and can be planted in areas destined for new coffee plants, and because it has a short cycle. It is ideal for the coffee grower to plant something and generate income during the period when the coffee is not in production.” 

“Coffee growers in Colombia have historically preferred beans and maize to be planted with their coffee, because of their ease of commercialization and contribution to the health of their farm soil. Now it is much better because they are more nutritious crops,” added Arcos. 

Of the five lots planted with bean seeds at the La Catalina Experimental Station, the FNC was able to produce a total of 1,300 kg of seed, which will be distributed to coffee growers throughout the country to promote the planting of biofortified organic beans 101.