Contour farming, rotational grazing, integrated pest management, composting, nutrient recycling, improved land use efficiency, wildlife corridors, woodland management, certified crop advisors. These terms sound like what you might hear at a NRCS field day here in the U.S. I am happy to report they are alive and in full use in Pital, Costa Rica, as well.
The connection with stewardship of the land that farmers and agricultural retailers have across the globe was very evident as we traveled to represent the U.S. as national Environmental Respect winners. It was an honor to carry the Environmental Respect banner and we are very proud of the industry and group of business men and women we were chosen to represent. We were also encouraged to see first hand what I have always believed — those of us who live and work on the land directly involved in food production have a genuine and natural interest in good stewardship of that land. This connection transcends language and culture. The Central American Environmental Respect Ambassador, Mainor Rojas Sanchez, was a gracious host and tremendous representative of our industry. He not only runs a top-notch retail business, he is a leader in his community and an advocate for the farmers whom he serves. He shared with us how he has worked with representatives of the European Union to demonstrate the excellent crop management and advice his customers receive from retailers like him in the region. This not only emphasized the role good environmental stewardship plays in his day to day decision making, it also helped preserve a valuable export market for his customers. That’s the type of leadership which makes Mainor very deserving of the title “Ambassador of Respect.” It was an honor to stand with him and represent the retailers in the U.S. who share this same level of concern for their customers and the environment.
The trip was extremely well planned. Raymond Forney from Dupont did a great job orchestrating the planning of the event. He recruited Ana Christina Rojas (a Costa Rican native) from Dupont’s registration department to serve as the trip coordinator and guide. Rojas was a professional and upbeat hostess and translator who never let us have a dull moment.
Our other great traveling companions were K. Elliott Nowels from CropLife® magazine and his wife Joy and our Dupont Representative Ned McIlvane and his wife Nancy. My wife Jen and I made new friendships with these folks and several others we met in Costa Rica.
We were fortunate to meet with several representatives from DuWest while in Costa Rica. Milton Pineda Chevez, general manager of the DuWest’s business in Central America and the Carribean, Israel Garita Cruz, research and development manager for DuWest and Huberth Rojas Morales, the DuWest representative who worked with Mainor, the Central American Winner.
A Wealth Of Knowledge
The knowledge and professionalism of these gentlemen was very impressive. Cruz joined us for several days and helped Rojas guide us through many agricultural operations and crop production scenarios. These included shade grown coffee, palm hearts plantations, banana plantations, pineapple farms, cassava production and dairy farms. I can say at all these stops the theme of Environmental Respect was clearly evident. Jen and I especially enjoyed meeting one of Mainor’s customers, Carlos Enrique Vargas Ulate. Ulate reminded me in so many ways of the growers with whom I have the privilege to call on every day. Straight forward and honest with a genuine desire to steward the land on which he lives and works. The connections we made with these folks are extremely valuable and ones which I look forward to maintaining.
It is a small world, but also one very much in need of the positive message of Environmental Respect. We will never forget the time we spent in Costa Rica and look forward to sharing more good news about agriculture through this program.