DPM in Ecuador – The Complete Experience

Here’s an exclusive blog about the students’ experience in Ecuador!

Day 1: We visited CIP (Center Internacional de la Papa), a potato research and breeding facility. We learned about Agri-food system for potato, looked at food security, marketability, nutritional education, and disease prevention. Dr. Kromann gave us a tour of their greenhouses and their research fields where we saw this breathtaking view!

Later that day, we visited INIAP (El Instituto Nacional de Investigaciones Agropecuarias). This is the USDA of Ecuador! We toured their labs and met with several amazing scientists working to develop IPM programs for growers in Ecuador. We met with a plant pathologist who told us about a fruit belonging to Solanaceae called naranjilla and its problem with vascular wilt (Fusarium oxysporum). He is currently working on resistant varieties and the results are promising!

Day 2: We met with a representative from ESPOL University (Escuela Superior Politecnica del Litoral) who took us on a beautiful hike. We toured the labs at the university, and this was a special occasion for our student Lisbeth because she worked in this facility for several years before joining the DPM program!

Dr. Hodges, Daniel, and Matt gave presentations to the students of ESPOL. The students seemed interested in our program as well as Daniel and Matt’s research! We met with the Dean of Life Science and discussed possible collaboration with the students from UF and ESPOL. We had lunch and exchanged ideas on improvement in research to farmer collaboration. We also had the honor of meeting the President of ESPOL!

We ended the day with a walk through of Malecón and the city of Guayaquil! We also climbed 444 steps to the lighthouse. So worth it!

 

Day 3: We visited banana, cacao, sugarcane and rice fields. It was absolutely amazing to see banana production from harvest to packing. The farm managers walk through with us the biotic and abiotic stresses these crops face and how they manage it with IPM. Also, they use only biological controls for their sugarcane field!

We ended the day with a visit to CINCAE, a sugarcane research facility where the focus on breeding selection for high sugar content, disease resistance, and high yield. A very eventful day for the students!

Day 4-6: We spent majority of Day 4 driving to Baños. On Day 5, Lisbeth and Daniel took us to see the famous waterfall called Pailon del Diablo. The view was amazing! We were soaked by the end, but it was worth it! We drove a bit more and saw the Amazonian region.

Now, remember that famous National Geographic Merit Prize winning photo “End of the World”? Well, it was taken in Baños at Casa Del Arbol where visitors can swing out of the treehouse overlooking the mountains. Of course, the students took a turn on the swing. Here are some pictures to prove it!

We didn’t forget about agriculture in Baños! Lisbeth and Daniel explained to us the crops that are grown here in such high elevation. We even saw some citrus trees! Also, on our way back to Quito, we stopped at Ciudad Mitad Del Mundo (Middle of the World City) where we visited The Monument to the Equator. We ended the night celebrating Daniel Mancero’s Birthday with his parents!

Day 7 (Last day): We started the day at Florecal, a rose production facility. Since Ecuador is number one in rose production in the world, we were lucky to see the whole production taking place, especially with Mother’s Day around the corner. We toured the greenhouse to the packinghouse. The farm manager shared some unique nutritional and pest management for roses. It was a very educational tour!

We left for the US that night feeling very thankful for the experience and the opportunities the program has given us.

From the DPM students, thank you very much for all the donations from our supporters. Your gift to us is very much appreciated as the trip was an experience of a lifetime!