Written by America Barcelo-Feldman
Produced by Taybele Piven
Interviewee Roberto Albornoz, Director of Valuation
Corpoica's goal is the development of scientific knowledge and transfer of technology for the agricultural sector through research and innovation. This vision has changed with the passing of time, considering that in late 2010, the government increased the corporation's budget for new research projects in farming development.
The corporation's agenda is based in interdisciplinary large-scale projects to be developed in a five-year plan.
According to Albornoz, between US$40M and US$50 million have been procured for project development over the last 20 years: "We've earned the government's and the people's trust, because they are able to see the need for a research institution such as ours as well as the benefits derived from it," he says.
This institution's main focus is obtaining knowledge and having the right personnel. The staff includes 100 professionals with doctorate degrees and 130 who achieved a Master's. Corpoica's management perceives partnerships with local colleges as a vital investment rewarded by attracting a qualified workforce.
Staff training is a priority for Corpoica. An example of this is the government's "Tiempo de Volver" program (meaning "time to return") inviting Colombian doctoral researchers abroad to work in Colombia in order to increase the domestic industry's performance. The institution's personnel are always encouraged to pursue postgraduate education.
The corporation has improved technology transfer from process digitalization up to progress in genetics and farming techniques.
As a result from performance evaluations carried by the government, the corporation has been assigned to accomplish duties such as system revision of technical upgrades to be run by the agriculture ministry. The institution has its own labs offering research-derived services; future plans include equipment acquisition for genetics and both plant and animal genomics.
"We support TOT, so projects are handed directly to regional trade unions and technical assistance corps, thus increasing farming competitiveness," says Albornoz.
Competitive differentiation within domestic production
The corporation's differentiators are delimited by their top priorities: assisting in improvements for stockbreeding activity, and reaching international standards in Colombia's farming variations.
Corpoica has strengthened its alert systems and agro-climatic management to assist Colombia in extreme situations such as droughts and floods, as it happened with the "El Niño" phenomenon, affecting Colombia's stockbreeding and farming activities for more than eight months. The corporation has set technical procedures able to manage regional climate change, overcoming such challenges.
"We must focus into launching products which help achieving globally-competitive agricultural production," says Albornoz.
The corporation is planning an expansion process for its 14 centers, so every single zone in the country is properly represented. Contact offices are soon to open in coffee-producing zones, one more in southern Colombia and there will be a re-opening of the Carmen de Bolivar office, which was affected by domestic violence in previous years.
"We want to improve our budgets, hence improving also our TOT programs and our technology, and we also want to follow up with the recommended agro-climate models for current climate change," says Albornoz.
The corporation has earned an excellent reputation thanks to its partners for research and synergy with suppliers has intensified during the last four years. Also, the arrival of quality supplies complying with global standards has increased.
Goals for Corpoica include becoming their country's most important research institution within the next five years. To accomplish this feat, the corporation is focused in the expansion of research projects benefitting Colombian farming soon to be implemented nationwide.