I-CAL Perspectives: It’s a Small World

College students who participate in the International Collegiate Agricultural Leadership (I-CAL) program travel overseas to learn about global agriculture and international marketing. During the two-week annual program, students tour international components of agriculture like feed mills, open air feed and animal markets, livestock operations and food processing plants. Now returned from their June 2013 trip to Brazil, they are providing regular updates to put their experiences in perspective.

This dispatch comes from Kari Weis:

It is hard to believe that a month ago our I-CAL group was boarding a plane for Brazil. Not a day has gone by that I haven’t thought about the trip and the experiences while there. During the 10 days, I toured the city of Rio de Janeiro and the beautiful countryside and learned many Brazilian cultural ways. I was able to compare their agricultural methods to that of the United States. The experiences of sugarcane harvesting, swine and flower production in Brazil will be forever remembered.

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I-CAL: Rio de Janeiro

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As the new day began, we were reminded that our time here in Brazil is limited.  Our final destination, Rio de Janeiro is our home for the next three days.  This morning a few of us woke up bright and early to attend a traditional Catholic mass.  The little church was elegantly decorated with stain glass windows lining the walls and carved pillars throughout ceremonial space.  The mass was entirely in Portuguese, and those who went received a glimpse into a part of the Brazilian culture.

Later on, everyone enjoyed a cup of freshly squeezed juice, cheese bread, a wide variety of fruits, and of course coffee.  After breakfast, the ICAL team made their way down to Copacabana Beach to enjoy the morning sun and a couple of waves.  We did not try our hand in surfing, but we let the waves push us around.  Who would have thought, the ocean was salty.  Overall, the morning was absolutely a blast, and we experience the people of Rio playing volleyball, lounging on the beach, and competing in soccer games.

As 12:30 rolled around, we showered and got ready for the day.  Our first stop was the “Hippie Fair.”  A collection of artisans set up small booths to peddle their handmade jewelry, leather, and canvas paintings.  As we walked around, we experienced the smells of traditional desserts.  Furthermore, we gained an appreciation for the craftsmanship of the pieces that were being sold.

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I-CAL: Roses and Pigs

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Today was all about the smells of agriculture, from roses to pigs. We started off another amazing day in Brazil after departing our hotel in Barbacena and headed to the award winning Sao Sebastiao flower nursery.

We were greeted by the general manager who started off our tour by showing us the various greenhouses used in rose production. Sao Sebastiao was established 15 years ago and is a seven hectare, family owned, operation. They run 22 greenhouses to cultivate their high quality roses.

After exploring greenhouses we saw the warehouse where they package flowers for transportation and do flower arrangements. We also got to look inside one of their large storage coolers full of roses of various varieties.

We learned that the length of the stem rather than the quality of the flower determines the worth of a rose. In 2011 Sao Sebastiao didn’t export any flowers, but they have exported to Portugal in the past. We learned that the mark up on roses in Brazil is three or four times the whole sale price.

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