Practice and accompany: PAT keys

Ana María Payeras, administrator of the El Limón farm, provider of the Providencia sugar mill, is one of the most committed participants in the Program. We learned about your experience.

Ana María Payeras, during training in identifying borer damage.

Ana María Payeras's agenda is almost identical to the activity calendar of the Cenicaña Learning and Technical Assistance Program (PAT):

In March 2014 he attended a site-specific training session on agriculture (AEPS); then, in May, it participated in activities on administrative control of irrigation (CAR); in August and November, training was provided in water balance and irrigation with reduced flow; in March 2015 he learned how to assess borer damage Diatraea, and in July he attended workshops on soil preparation.

Beyond her commitment, what is most striking about her is that after each activity of the PAT and without letting many days pass, this supplier of sugar cane from the Providencia refinery goes to the farm and shares her knowledge with the workers. There, with the collaboration of the butler, she quickly presents the technologies and organizes a one-day program to put them into practice.

"The workshops are very short because they are done practicing," says Ana María, and specifies: "For example, if the training is on irrigation, we immediately go to the field to do the practice, because that is the most important part. The activity can take two hours or one morning, but we try to make it no more than that time. Then, in the course of the day, it is evaluated how it was done, where it went wrong and where it was right ”.

This is how it has proceeded to implement all the technologies since Cenicaña started the PAT with the collaboration of the mills that allow the training of its technical assistants as facilitators.

According to the supplier, in order for the adoption process to be as complete as possible, she has tried to ensure that the training on her farm includes all the workers involved in the management of the crop, because in this way knowledge and experience are consolidated.

"Sometimes you can not remove all staff from their work," he says, but we have selected eight workers to inspect Diatraea, and the six irrigators have been instructed in all matters related to water management ”.

The accompaniment by the ingenuity has also been key in the adoption process. According to the grower, “the fact that a technical assistant trained as a facilitator guides and monitors us is essential because many suppliers have very precarious administrations and we lack personnel with sufficient knowledge to transmit new technologies, and most importantly: do it with credibility. All that is given to us by ingenuity ”.

He adds that the adoption of new technologies can seem expensive, because in some cases it is necessary to have additional support, such as hiring an expert technician, but these sustainable practices translate into savings and therefore "should not scare the initial costs" .

The technologies offered by the PAT are not new to many providers, but they are still an opportunity to strengthen knowledge.

In the case of the El Limón farm, managed by Ana María, training in AEPS served to verify the agroecological zoning; the administrative control of irrigation had already been done, but it was necessary to reinforce the manager's knowledge for a more efficient exercise of her work; and the water balance has been carried out for fifteen years, currently through the Cenicaña website, but certain conditions of the farm were refined.

And ingenuity?

According to Diana Álvarez, technical assistant at the Providencia mill, in order to ensure that providers like Ana María are committed to the PAT, it has been key to work with the Program's methodological approach: learning by doing.

"At the mill we try to ensure that the activities are very practical and visual," says Diana. For example, when we implement the administrative control of irrigation we set up stations for small groups to provide more personalized training; We insist that its members be butlers and that they themselves participate by making measurements, locating gutters, asking questions and clearing up doubts ”.

However, he assures that the key to success in the work carried out by the mill is to summon both butlers and suppliers to the training sessions: “The butlers identify more with the issues, ask questions and make an effort to understand how it is used technology - underlines, and clarifies -: But if only they go we do nothing. Here the process is the other way around: the butler is the one who helps the supplier understand with practical arguments why it is worth adopting the technologies ”.

PAT Advance

  • Last August, the training session for facilitators on 'Soil preparation for the sustainable production of sugarcane' was held, which was attended by 117 professionals from the mills.
  • In the first semester of 2016, training is planned on 'Recognition of sugarcane diseases in Colombia' and 'Identification and management of factors that affect fermentation efficiency in ethanol production'. The latter is aimed at factory personnel of the mills.


On September 22, a workshop organized by Cenicaña was held to learn about the opinions and interests of sugarcane growers in technology transfer. The meeting was attended by 20 people, all suppliers from the thirteen sugar mills in the region.

A second activity is planned with another group of suppliers in the sector on a date yet to be defined.


Information letter
3 Year / 2 Number / July of 2015

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