Internationalag's Blog

Sugar Cane Mill
June 28, 2010, 11:25 pm
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Last night, we celebrated our visit in Dourados with Dr. Harder’s family, who prepared a Brazilian/Texas BBQ feast. Our meal included pork, sausage, beef, rolls, fruit, and of course the traditional Brazilian drink, Caipirinha.

This morning, the class was fortunate enough to visit a sugar cane mill, which is owned by the American company, Bunge. While at the mill, we toured the fields during the harvesting, as well as the actual production facilities.

This afternoon, the class got together to present and reflect on everyone’s group case studies. The topics being studied include indigenous people, extension and education, cattle production, sugar cane production, and eco/agro tourism.

Tonight, we are having a farewell dinner with the UFGD students at the local pizzeria. Tomorrow, we are leaving bright and early for Campo Grande where we will board our first plane destined for Brasilia, and then from Brasilia we fly to Rio de Janeiro.


Iguazu falls
June 27, 2010, 3:59 pm
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After a 10 hour bus ride in the middle of the night, we had the privilege of seeing one the top waterfalls in the world.  Iguaza Falls lies on the Iguaza River which separates Brazil and Argentina.  Our group had the opportunity to do various activities while at the falls,which consisted of hiking the trail next to the river up to the falls, taking a boat ride right up to the falls, and riding in a helicopter over the falls.  The falls are a result of a volcanic eruption which left a huge crack in the Earth.  After a full day at the falls we had to make the 10 hour bus ride back to Dourados.  Luckily we got to sleep in the next morning and are spending the rest of the day working on our case study presentations.

June 25, 2010, 9:42 pm
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This morning the class went and visited Embrapa, the Brazilian version of the USDA. During our visit we learned about the organization and their involvment in corn and soybean production. After lunch we returned to the Dourados reservation and visited with some of the indigenous families living there. Tonight we leave for Iguazu falls near the Brazil/Argentina border and will be returning early Sunday morning.

The Landless Workers
June 25, 2010, 1:12 am
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Today was spent at Itamarati Farm, which is one of the largest landless workers settlements in the country.  In Brazil there is a land reform movement allowing landless workers to obtain land from unproductive farmers.  The landless workers movement is a social movement to help landless workers or citizens acquire land for future agricultural purposes.  While visiting the farm, we were able to have two different perspective opinions: the landless workers and the people who are trying to help them.  All of the landless workers that we talked to were very open about their stories and how they ended up there.  Before the landless workers get to a settlement they have to camp-out in front of the unproductive farm on the side of the road, which can go on for several years.  Before getting to Itamarati Farm we were able to see one of the camps.  It was good to see then whole process: the camping and the workers on the land they are given.

Back to Dourados
June 23, 2010, 10:04 pm
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This morning the class had some down time to work on our case studies before heading back to Dourados. We arrived back in Dourados around 4 pm after a 3 hours bus ride. The uneventful evening will come in handy for students to continue working on their case studies. Since the rest of the trip is jam-packed with more international agriculture activities.

For those of you who are concerned about the Brazil floods, there is a map below detailing the class’ location in Brazil versus the flooding location in the country. As you will see, we are far away from any destruction!

Snorkeling in Bonito
June 23, 2010, 2:19 am
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Snorkeling and show cattle were the two class activities for the day. This morning the class loaded the bus and headed to another ranch just outside Bonito, where they offer guided river snorkeling expeditions down a 2 km (which is about 1 mile) stretch of crystal clear water. Everyone had a great time exploring the rivers aquatic ecosystem, which included fish, snails, and crabs. Below is a link to a video of our snorkeling adventure.

After enjoying a traditional farm lunch, we discussed show cattle with the ranch’s head cattle manager. The show cattle were much friendlier and calmer than the slaughter cattle we saw yesterday. The calves enjoyed licking our hands and faces while we scratched their heads and ears. Before leaving the ranch the whole class had a chance to taste the Brazilian version of iced tea. The loose tea is mixed with cold water in a cattle horn glass, and drank through a spoon straw which filters the tea.


Tomorrow we head back to Dourados. Later in the week will be visiting a native reservation, waterfalls, and possibly a sugarcane mill.

Its not all work, we have some time to play
June 22, 2010, 1:51 am
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After another bumpy ride down a Bonito dirt road, we were able to visit with one of the most successful cattle producer and farmer in the nation where he shared his knowledge with us about his operation.  We had an early start at 6:40 this morning to see the selection process for the cattle that are going to be slaughtered.  We watched the buyer sift through the cattle and the ones he selected were weighed and put into pens of twenty-five.  At this particular farm, on the days that cattle are sold the cowboys are served a feast to celebrate the sell.  We were able to partake in the feast which consisted of eggs and a rice dish that had sun dried beef. 


In the afternoon, we got to experience some of the agrotourism that is located in Bonito.  As a group we decided to visit the local park during our free time.  The park consisted of a portion of a river, a sand volleyball court, futbol court, and several places to eat.  Despite the chilly water, we took advantage of the rivers current and started up stream at one end of the park and floated down to the other end of the park.  It was a nice experience to bond as a group and get to know each other a little bit better.