WFP Innovation Accelerator - Diary of the Groasis project in Colombia

In 2017, Groasis has been selected through the United Nations World Food Program Innovation Accelerator, to run a project in order to investigate the impact that the Groasis Ecological Water Saving Technology can have on reaching the “Zero Hunger by 2030” target. You can read the complete press message here.

In the diary below, you can read the daily messages from Ana Terranova, our official Groasis distributor who leads the project in Colombia in cooperation with David Arango from Biofog, our distributor in Colombia, on behalf of Groasis. To see all the pictures of this project, please check out our photo albums

Monday, January 29

Together with Jeyson, who is an Argonomist Engineer, we started our activities in the WFP Pasto Office. We were received by Mario and Carmen Lucía. Besides them, we met the other office’s staff. Everybody was very kind, and we explained them how the Groasis Ecological Water Saving Technology works, and what you can do with the Waterboxx® plant cocoon (the concept, components, species planted).

After this, we checked the warehouse where 1,050 Waterboxxes and Growsafes were stored. Together with Jeyson, Mario and Carmen Lucía, we arranged the delivery of the boxes to Almaguer.

Groasis and the World Food Programme Innovation Accelerator first day of the project in Colombia

From left to right: Mario, Carmen Lucía, Ana, Jeyson

At the end of the afternoon, we bought a tomato Tahiti specie. We will use this for the video of tomorrow (Tuesday). We will be a part in the video that the World Food Programme will make about the different projects they have carried out during 2017.

Tuesday, January 30

We arrived at 08:30 at the office of the World Food Programme. While organizing our speeches and preparing ourselves for the video, various people from the press from Bogota arrived to film and to conduct the interview. They asked us about the Groasis Technology, what our plan is, and how we will help the beneficiaries in Almaguer. We hope to receive the video in March!

Mrs Ana Terranova member of Groasis during the interview for the WFPs annual video

Ana, member of Groasis, during her interview for the WFP's annual video

After the video, we went to the area where we will plant the Lemon tree and Jeyson will do the tutorial about how to plant with Groasis Waterboxx® plant cocoon. He was very good, considering it was his first time talking about Waterboxx® plant cocoon.

The WFP team was very enthusiastic about the boxes, and asked to their supervisor if they could use a couple of them to test them in a very dry area around Nariño.

In the afternoon, the Waterboxx® plant cocoons were sent to Almaguer by a truck. The boxes will arrive tomorrow, in the same way as we do. It was a very long day, on Wednesday we will have a long trip to Almaguer by car (around 6 hours).

Wednesday, January 31

We arrived at 08:30 at the office of the World Food Programme. Immediately we started our trip to Almaguer. We heard that the WFP office could keep a couple of the boxes in order to test them around Nariño.

The highway in Nariño Department is very good, but when you arrive to the Cauca side, it is a curvy highway with a lot of military and policemen in every small town. Almost 7 hours later, we finally arrived in Almaguer, where the truck with the boxes was waiting for us.

We could store the Waterboxx® plant cocoons in a room in the house of Osvilda, a woman who participates in this project. The rest of the day I used to prepare the brochures, information sheets, and the slideshows to explain how the technology works for the female leaders of AMURA.

Thursday, February 1st

Today we have started at the community house where we came together with members of the WFP and the female leaders of AMURA. Everything was very well organized, and looked great. We had a good welcome.

Mónica from PNUD Colombia gave the opening. She has experience working on various projects with the women of AMURA and other groups of the Colombian Cauca. She is a very active and pleasant woman.

The socialization was a success. All the women are excited to start the project. In the Sprint project, 203 women from 13 groups will participate.

In the talk, Mr. Diego Bravo, representative of the Mayor of Almaguer, participated. He is a valuable support for this project. He has advanced knowledge of agriculture in this area, and he is very persuasive with the women of the association.

Additionally, we obtained a list of the species of trees and vegetables that would be planted with the Waterboxx® and the Growboxx® plant cocoon:

Waterboxx® plant cocoon Growboxx® plant cocoon
Fruits Vegetables
Moar Zanahoria
Tomate de árbol Acelga
Lulo Repollo
Aguacate Remolacha
Naranja Espinaca
Mango Tomate Milano
Grandilla Pepino

Next Saturday, we will have a new meeting with the 13 groups to define the final species to plant in the Waterboxx®, the distances for visits, schedule of visits, etc.

All together WFP representatives of the mayor of Almaguer AMURA and Groasis

All together; members of the World Food Programme, representatives of the mayor of Almaguer, women of AMURA, and Groasis

Saturday, February 3rd

Today, we started with a meeting with the female leaders of AMURA, Diego Bravo, and our own team. During this meeting, we came to the following conclusions:

  • We have had a very good reception in Almaguer, with the women's group of AMURA. There is a lot of expectation, interest and desire to carry out the project.
  • Information sheets were filled out, to complement the data of the leaders and their groups: name of sidewalks (they call sidewalks to the different areas of farms or country houses), distance between them, number of participants, names of participants, etc.
  • Questions were cleared regarding the Waterboxx® plant cocoon, so that they will not have any kind of concerns about the technology to be used in the project.
  • The numbers of Waterboxx® plant cocoon were established for each member of the groups, obtaining: 13 groups with 203 women participants - each woman will receive 5 Waterboxx® plant cocoons - total Waterboxx® plant cocoons to be delivered 1015 units.
  • The fruit tree species to be planted with the Waterboxx® plant cocoons were established, obtaining: Avocado (143) - lemon (308) – papaya (98) - passion fruit (273) – blackberry (208). Total 1030 plants.
  • We established the distance with which each tree will be planted, so that they prepare the land.
  • Emphasis was placed on the support and commitment we need from all the women in the groups.
  • In each place, there will be a plantation of 5 Waterboxx® plant cocoons for the demonstration.

Monday, February 5th

We have numbered all the Waterboxx® plant cocoons for the 13 groups, and made them ready to be used!

We got a message from the WFP, indicating that we must keep safe and don't go outside, since there will be an armed strike. 

Monday and Tuesday, February 12 and 13

Since there was an armed strike (we have been in peace, only the bus service does not work), we were not able to carry out the activities that were scheduled for this week. The visits to the sidewalks have been modified, resulting in the following:

  • Monday 19th: Tarabita 1, Tarabita 2, El Elvecia, Gonzalo and Palizada
  • Tuesday 20th: Pitayas and Herradura
  • Wednesday 21th: Yunga, Altillo and Yacuanas Bajo
  • Thursday 22th: Hato Viejo and Gabrielas
  • Friday 23th: Ruíz

Wednesday, February 14

We have had a very busy day. Our trip started today at 4 am. We took the bus “Super Tambo” and went to Popayan. Popayan is a very big city, 5.30 hours far from Almaguer. It was a hot day, and certainly has a little smell like Guayaquil. We arrived to the bus station at 9.30 am and immediately we went to the store. There, we met with Diego Bravo, who left Almaguer in a dump truck, provided by the mayor of Almaguer.

I bought the trees, got the invoice and the order to retire the trees in the nursery. I bought the following species:

  • 143 avocados Hass
  • 308 lemon Tahiti
  • 98 papayas Tahino
  • 273 passion fruits
  • 208 blackberry Castilla

Total trees: 1.030 units

20180214 Avocado Hass

Avocado Hass - for more pictures of the saplings and the WFP project, please click here.

After that, at 1 pm we met with Mónica (PNUD Colombia), who invited us for lunch. She talked with us about an event next Tuesday 20th in La Herradura. It will be important, the Groasis Project will be named in the event. Also, La Herradura is a sidewalk working with us in the project Sprint.

Around 2 pm, we were in the nursery to take the trees with us. The nursery is very big and systematized. We visited the installations and we checked our trees. We placed the trees in the volqueta and left Popayan at 4 pm. We were back in Almaguer at 9 pm. It was a long day, but a good one!

Tuesday, February 15

We visited the place where we stored the trees. We recounted the plants and until Sunday, they will be watered. In the afternoon, we searched some mycorrhiza in the village. We chose for “Botón de oro” as mycorrhiza for the plantations.

Friday, February 16

From Monday 19 to Friday 23, we will carry out the plantations with the Groasis Ecological Water Saving Technology (with the Waterboxx®, the Growsafe and the mycorrhiza) at the sidewalks.

Monday, February 19

This week we start the planting process in the sidewalks (veredas). We have programmed visiting 13 veredas, 203 women beneficiaries, 1015 Waterboxx® plant cocoons are given, 1030 fruit trees (140 avocados, 305 lemons, 95 papayas, 270 passion fruits, 205 blackberries and 3 control plants of each specie).

The area characteristics are almost the same in all the 13 veredas:

  • Roads with large potholes and difficult access (landslides in many parts due to rains);
  • In the high hills, the weather is cold and there are strong winds;
  • In the down hills, it is very sunny and warm, mostly very hot;
  • Rainy season in all the places;
  • Planting sites are located on hillsides or in slopes, some of them are not easy to access;
  • There is a lack of water;
  • Clayey soil with difficulty to filter the water;
  • Corn crops and orchards of vegetables. Everywhere we can see crops of coca, it was the main activity of the farmers years ago. Now, those trees grow but they don’t work more with them, at least, they say that. 

20180219 1 Due to the heavy rainfall the Groasis and WFP members couldnt reach the plant sites for hours

The landsides, due to the heavy rainfall, the routes couldn't give any access for hours!

People are a little bit shy, but very kind with interest in the Groasis Technology. Everybody is very curious to know of the Waterboxx® will work in those places.

We have decided to start the trip to the farthest place from Almaguer. Today we have 5 places to visit. It will be a long day! 

Our team is represented by: Jeyson, Diego Bravo and Ana Terranova. The team of PMA is arriving today after midday, because they had to travel from Pasto.

Tarabita 2 is the first place to visit. It is in the downhill and it is very warm. Those people have a lot of problems with water normally, but the rainy season makes a difference. Tarabita 2 is to 9km far from Almaguer (normally it is a 1-hour drive, but now it takes 1hour 30 minutes due to the bad road). In Tarabita 2 we have 16 beneficiaries. We have planted 81 fruit trees: 41 avocados (40 in Waterboxx® and one without) and 40 lemons. See the numbers of the boxes here

Tarabita 1 is the biggest group of beneficiaries with 25 women. Tarabita 1 is 8 km far from Almaguer. The weather is hot and the soil is clayey. The holes were filled with water due to the rain and it was a difficult process to filtering for clayey soils. They received 128 fruit trees: 46 lemons (45 in a Waterboxx® plant cocoon and 1 control plant) and 82 papayas (80 in Wb and 2 control plants). See the numbers of the boxes here.

Elvecia was the 3th place visited. Elvecia has 13 beneficiaries and all of them received passion fruits (maracuya): 65 in a Waterboxx® plant cocoon and 1 control plant. See the numbers of the boxes here.

We decided to visit Palizada, before Gonzalo. In Palizada, there are 18 beneficiaries and they received 91 passion fruits: 90 in a Waterboxx® plant cocoon and 1 control plant. Here, we do not use the Growsafes, because plants are small (less than 20 cm high). They received the Growsafes and we will put them on from March. Here in Palizada, PMA´s team joined us. See the numbers of the boxes here.

Our last place was Gonzalo. But we were at 18 p.m. there. So, we decided to give the Waterboxx® plant cocoon and plants and come back next day. Gonzalo has 13 beneficiaries, 66 passion fruit trees: 65 in a Waterboxx® plant cocoon and 1 control plant. See the numbers of the boxes here.

Tuesday, February 20

We have returned to Gonzalo to implement the planting process with the Waterboxx® plant cocoons. In Gonzalo, they received 66 fruit trees: 65 passion fruits in a Waterboxx® plant cocoon and 1 control plant.

Pitayas was our next stop. Here are 21 beneficiaries: all of them received lemons, 105 in a Waterboxx® plant cocoon and 2 control plants. See the numbers of the boxes here.

Herradura was our last place to visit today. In Herradura, we have 10 beneficiaries. They received 50 passion fruits in a Waterboxx® plant cocoon. No control plants here. We were invited to an event of PNUD and ONU Mujeres. We were named there like Proyecto Groasis with PMA. 

Wednesday, February 21

Yunga is 7 km far from Almaguer. There are 16 beneficiaries, we gave 81 trees: 45 avocados in a Waterboxx® plant cocoon and 1 control plant; and 35 lemons. See the numbers of the boxes here.

Altillo has 12 beneficiaries. They received 61 trees: 30 avocados in a Waterboxx® plant cocoon and 1 control plant and 30 lemons.

There are 10 beneficiaries in Yacuanas Bajo. They received 51 trees: 25 avocados and 1 control plant; and 25 lemons.

Thursday, February 22

20180222 2 People of Gabrielas with their first planted Waterboxx plant cocoon for the World Food Programme Innovation Accelerator Zero Hunger by 2030 project S

The people of Gabriela with the first planted Waterboxx® plant cocoon in this site 

Gabriela was a little cold. There are 16 beneficiaries and they received: 81 trees (80 blackberries and 1 control plant). See the numbers of the boxes here.

In Hato Viejo, we only left the Waterboxx® plant cocoons and plants. Women were not organized and we agreed come back next Tuesday 27th. They are 21 beneficiaries: they received 105 blackberries and 1 control plant.See the numbers of the boxes here.

Friday, February 23

Ruiz is the smallest group with only 6 beneficiaries. The bad point here is the road. It is a real mess. They received 31 trees: 30 papayas in a Waterboxx® plant cocoon and 1 control plant.

Tuesday, February 27

Definitely, Hato Viejo is the most difficult place to visit. The planting site is 20 minutes far from the main road. I went up by a horse and my partners were walking. The place was very difficult access! But, in Hato Viejo we had a very good time. We had all the time to explain them, we took very nice photos, they were satisfied with the explanation.