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Communications Professionals Meet to Collaborate Strategies for Latin America HarvestPlus Program

“Uniting efforts” is not as easy as it may seem. This phrase represents the challenge of integration and collaboration that was presented to five communications coordinators who met at the International Center of Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) in Cali, Colombia, from October 1st-3rd 2014.

The coordinators came together from institutions that partner and collaborate with HarvestPlus in Latin America and the Caribbean. From Guatemala, Kristin Lacy and Lee Stroman represented the NGO Semilla Nueva, and Guadalupe Tello represented the Institute of Agricultural Science and Technology (ICTA); from Panama, Deysi Centella represented the Institute of Agricultural and Livestock Research of Panama (IDIAP); and from Nicaragua, Leslie Ruiz represented the Nicaraguan Universidad Centroamericana.

The result of their discussions was a communications strategy that will function to unite information across all four organizations, each working to introduce bio-fortified crops into their communities through the HarvestPlus Initiative. The strategy includes ways to share resources; such as farmer stories, research, photographs and videos, and different ideas for communicating the HarvestPlus initiative within the communities (this topic was a major discussion point in the meeting).

“If we succeed in creating mutual collaboration and strengthening what each of us is already doing independently, we could achieve increased transparency, visibility, and scientific credibility within our target audiences. Such integration, without doubt, will contribute to strengthening the impact we could achieve through communication”, explains Kristin Lacy.

The meeting also took advantage of the different professionals’ experiences to understand the institutions and the work of their respective communications offices. Proposals were also prepared for responding to HarvestPlus’ information needs and the publication of the program’s activities in the three countries.

“What we have in common,” says Guadalupe Tello, “is the desire to work under the conviction that, to achieve results we need to change, adopt new strategies, and unite efforts. An important part of this is to have the proper information sharing tools and the support for their use. This is essential to promote the common goals we seek.”

This collaboration has a specific development goal: better nutrition. Among the priorities of HarvestPlus are countries like Guatemala, Haiti and Nicaragua, which have some of the highest levels of vitamin and mineral deficiencies in the region.  Panama, where the government already supports bio-fortification will also benefit from renewed efforts.

In Latin America, HarvestPlus promotes the natural improvement of crops such as beans, cassava, sweet potato, rice and corn through bio-fortification, or biological fortification, a way to increase the concentration of essential nutrients such as iron, pro-vitamin A, zinc and vitamin A in these crops, naturally, as farmers have done for years.

The program also includes nutrition research, delivery of nutrient-rich crops to farmers, developing food products based on bio-fortified crops and measuring impact.

The participants returned to their countries not only with work commitments, but also with new knowledge that can be applied to their professional work. They enhanced their knowledge through conferences and workshops led by experts in themes of social media, new trends in non-profit communication, and scientific storytelling.

For more information on the Semilla Nueva-HarvestPlus collaboration click here.


Press Release from International Center of Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) October 8th, 2014

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