Panamanian authorities, the EU and IICA inaugurate farmer field school at penitentiary to develop sustainable rice farming techniques and facilitate social reintegration of prisoners
Panama City, 16 June 2021 (IICA). The project entitled “Support for the Formulation of Appropriate Mitigation Actions in Central American Agriculture”, part of the EUROCLIMA+ program executed by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture in Panama and El Salvador in collaboration with the countries’ Ministries of Agricultural Development (MIDA) and Agriculture and Livestock (MAG), inaugurated a farmer field school at Panama’s La Joya Penitentiary to train prisoners on new rice farming techniques.
The inauguration of the Farmer Field School (FFS) was attended by Chris Leo Clark Hoornaert, Ambassador of the European Union in Panama; Augusto Valderrama, Minister of MIDA of Panama; Janaina Tewaney, Minister of Government and Justice of Panama; Gerardo Escudero, IICA Representative in Panama; and representatives of the Embassy of France, the Ministry of the Environment, the Agricultural Marketing Institute, the Institute of Agricultural Innovation, and directors of the penitentiary and the School of Agricultural Sciences.
“Joining forces to facilitate projects like this one is important for the EU. Promoting a more sustainable agriculture is key for the future of our planet. Agriculture and farmers play a strategic role worldwide in ensuring food security, mitigating the effects of climate change, conserving biodiversity, and preventing natural disasters”, stated Ambassador Hoornaert.
Valderrama thanked the EU and IICA for their support in promoting environmental sustainability, low-carbon production, and the conservation of renewable resources. “This initiative gives prisoners the opportunity to reintegrate into society through agriculture”, stated the Panamanian minister of agricultural development.
“We are very pleased with this initiative. La Joya represents one of the largest prisoner populations in the country and we want to give them new opportunities so that when they complete their time here, they can say they have a new life as farmers”, expressed Janaina Tewaney, Minister of Government and Justice.
Gerardo Escudero, IICA Representative in Panama, reaffirmed the Institute’s commitment to strengthening agriculture in the country. “Agriculture is one of the oldest activities practiced by humanity. What we’re seeing today is a sample not only of production, but of training for young people who will gain their freedom knowing they can be farmers, as a way to make restitution”, he commented.
With the implementation of the FFS at La Joya, the program will receive greenhouse gas emission readings from both a traditional plot and a rice NAMA-compliant plot during a complete rice cycle.
20 preselected prisoners will participate in the project and will learn how to be pest monitors (weeds, diseases, and insects) to adjust the application of pesticides and herbicides based on critical economic levels. This will enable the use of climate variability-resilient seeds at recommended densities and the analysis of soil samples under the technical coordination of MIDA, Panama’s Agricultural Research Institute (IDIAP), and IICA.
“Support for the Formulation of Appropriate Mitigation Actions in Central American Agriculture” falls under the Resilient Food Production component of the EUROCLIMA+ program and is implemented by GIZ and Expertise France and financed by the EU.
The program’s objective is the strengthen regional and national capacities to achieve public-private adoption and a consensus on the scope of mitigation measures in Panama (rice) and El Salvador (cattle), acting as a catalyst for mitigation actions and cooperation among Central American countries toward low-carbon development as defined in the Climate-Adapted Sustainable Agriculture Strategy (EASAC, in Spanish) and Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).