My name is Fabián Ardila Pinto. I was born in Bogotá, Colombia, and lived for several years in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, in the north of my country. I am a cook, an anthropologist and I have a master's degree in public policy. I am currently a professor at the Faculty of Medicine of the National University in subjects of Food Culture and Qualitative Research Methods. I also coordinate a project with the Food and Agriculture Organization - FAO on the Right to Food with ethnic groups.
I have two brothers. Since I was a child, I became interested in issues related to food, because my grandmother was a cook, my mom is a baker, and I come from a family that appreciates culinary and agricultural experiences. My father, who is a journalist, had a newspaper and a radio program on agricultural issues a long time ago, which influenced me as a child. By living in the Sierra in my youth, I was able to meet many farmers who were dedicated to growing and harvesting coffee and other foods. Even today, my parents grow fruits and vegetables at home. In short, the countryside has always been present in my life experience.
I currently live in Bogotá. I have worked for several years as a researcher and consultant in projects on food, rural development and public health. One of the experiences that has left a big mark on my life was having been part of the Kapex Academy scholarship with two other colleagues from Colombia and others from Nepal and Uzbekistan. The conception of the scholarship is very interesting, because in addition to living in South Korea for three months and knowing its culture, we were able to learn from its food production processes and its agricultural policies. The scholarship emphasized that the kapex alumni would become multipliers of this knowledge.
As participants of the Scholarship we received more than thirty high quality lectures, with experts in agricultural policies and rural development, in which we strengthened our capacities for the improvement of the food and nutritional security in our countries. The lectures were complemented with field trips and visits to farms, cooperatives, restaurants, tourism projects, industrial parks, and public institutions, where we were able to learn first-hand about the successful South Korean rural development model. Few people have the opportunity to know Korean rural areas, so we were privileged because many people in the country have not visited these territories.
As a transversal line of the scholarship, we learned about the Korean cooperative model, and about the scheme of the 'Sixth industrialization of agriculture', which is very interesting because it links the productive phase, processing, marketing and service, which generates reducing production costs and improving marketing prices by improving farmers' profits. We were very surprised that the benefits of cooperatives in Korea are reinvested to self-manage extension, health, credit or education programs for their members.
As a Colombian team, we developed during the scholarship a project in which we studied the National Agricultural Cooperative Federation Nonghyup, and various cooperatives of community and local base, of which we recognized their characteristics as a tool for the strengthening of associations of small milk producers of the province of Ubaté, a territory a few hours away from Bogotá, Capital of Colombia. Our scholarship was framed in a research agreement between the Observatory of Sovereignty and Food and Nutritional Security (Obssan) of the National Unversity of Colombia, the Government of South Korea, and the Government of Cundinamarca.
With the learning that we obtained, we have strengthened several rural schools that work in the poorest municipalities of the Province of Ubaté. We have also accompanied a process of constant feedback with producers in the region, providing models and strategies used in Korea. Similarly, in various areas such as events, government meetings, or working with rural communities, we have highlighted the South Korean experience and its achievements as an alternative for rural development in our country. My gratitude to Korea and to KREI is huge, I learned a lot from their country and I try to apply every lesson of their culture in my daily life. I think that scholarships like KAPEX Academy are fundamental so that young people like me can get to know visions of sustainable economic development and take them to their countries. All my gratitude for the Korean people, for the KREI, its directors and researchers. Greetings from Colombia!