The first thing I thought when I saw the $500,000 cow was, “That bovine is worth a heck of a lot more money than I am.” It was a strange and somewhat discouraging thought, but part of what was a wonderful experience overall.
It happened to me two years ago in Argentina, host country for the 70th Plenary Meeting of the International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC). Although thousands of cotton professionals have attended the ICAC meetings over the years, many of them are missing out on a valuable part of the experience: the technical tours. I’ve attended the ICAC meetings every year since I joined Cotton International, and in 2011 I was fortunate enough to be able to carve out enough time to go on the technical tour in Argentina.
My notebook was overflowing with valuable information and data by time the plenary meeting in Buenos Aires was over, which is a beautiful thing to an editor. Still, I would have missed an extremely valuable part of the experience if I had missed the technical tour, which took us into the heart of Argentina to visit the cotton farms of smallholders, as well as the massive and highly sophisticated farm and livestock operation of one of Argentina’s wealthiest men.
That’s where I met the half-a-million-dollar cow. One of the farm owner’s favorite cows had died a few years beforeand he missed it so much that he had a team of geneticists clone the current version from cartilage taken from the deceased animal’s ear. It was quite the memorable experience, as were the other parts of the trip.
I’d seen highly sophisticated farms in the United States and Brazil, but that experience is completely different from standing and talking to a grower who relies on a couple of hectares of cotton plants to earn a living.
We are all professionals and need to focus carefully on our daily business responsibilities, whatever part of the value chain we’re in. But it’s important to actually experience the cotton industry firsthand once in a while, too. I strongly encourage anyone who is fortunate enough to attend an ICAC Plenary Meeting do everything in their power to extend the trip for a few extra days and go on one of the technical tours.
I can’t guarantee that you’ll meet a cow that’s worth more than a garage full of Ferraris like I did, but I can promise that the experience will be a priceless one.
Colombia Technical Tours
Two technical tours will be offered by the cotton industry of Colombia following the 72nd Plenary Meeting in Cartagena. Both tours will depart from Cartagena on Friday afternoon, October 4.
One tour will consist of a visit to an agricultural cooperative near the city of Aguachica. This tour will return to Cartagena on Saturday evening October 5.
The second tour will consist of a visit to a different cotton growing area in the interior of Colombia, and this tour will conclude in Bogota Sunday morning October 6.
The cost of participation in each tour is $200, including transportation and lodging. Registration must be completed by August 16.
Information about the tours and registration is available on the ICAC web site.