You can complement the FFA emblem in numerous ways, from traditional to timeless. Combined with the trademark national blue corduoroy jackets, the emblem is just that — emblematic of the storied National FFA Organization.
But what about fast? Do you really associate agricultural education’s most-recognized symbol with speed?
Getting up before 4 a.m. is not usually a college student’s cup of tea, but today we had just such a morning, and were richly rewarded with an aerial view of magnificent mountaintops as our plane landed in Medellin, Colombia. After breakfast at our new hotel, our tours today started off like none other: dressing up like Michelin Men to stay warm as we took a tour of a swine, cattle, and veal processing plant.
When we arrived at the plant, we were greeted with kind handshakes and Colanta branded souvenirs. Colanta, our host for the day, is a Colombian cooperative that handles meat and dairy.
Lauren Geiger – Kansas State University
Thomas Marten – Southern Illinois University
Today we visited a local swine producer who raises hogs from farrow to finish outside of Cali, Colombia. Everyone was delighted when we were each handed a pair of blue coveralls, plastic booties and a hair net before entering the facility.
Paradise Farms, the swine operation, is locally owned and operated. A featured technology of the operation is the process used to convert animal waste into compost and heat.
The owner is a member of the Colombian Pork Checkoff and a past president of the Colombian Pork Producers Association. The checkoff program was started in 1994 and now helps members by offering trainings to producers and spending time lobbying to the government.
It was interesting to be able to see the entire process from farrow to the final marketed product in a tropical environment. Paradise Farms is a very profitable and productive business, some production highlights include:
• 5% mortality rate
• 90% conception rate
• Average of 11 piglets/litter
• Each sow will average 28 piglets/year
Upon leaving the swine operation, we made our way to an open-air Colombian produce and meat market. All fresh foods are domestically produced. Did you know that Colombia is home to 1100 different fruits? Many of these fruits were exotic to us, and we even were able to sample a few.
It was a different experience for us to see the fresh meat market as well with meat hanging in the open air. The market allowed us to experience how the majority of local, small scale producers sell their products.
After a quick outdoor lunch and the opportunity to take a look at the neighboring nursery, we visited a local tropical fruit orchard. The most unique fruit we learned about was the Atamoya fruit, which is a new hybrid fruit created from the Naon and the Chirimoya fruits.
Atamoya is a very sweet and expensive fruit because the tree doesn’t begin producing fruit until three to four years of age. This orchard is the only Atamoya producer in the world, giving them competitive advantage in Colombian markets.
Mangos, macadamia nuts and guanabanas are also found in the orchard. The guanabana fruit is about the size of a football, green and covered in spikes. We ended the tour by seeing how macadamia nuts are cleaned, sorted and dried on location.
We finished the day with a relaxing BBQ dinner as tomorrow will be a very early wake-up call when we fly to Medellin, Colombia.
Jarvis Pace – Utah State University
Gracie Weinzierl – Illinois State University