Arizona Group Learns About Agriculture in Yaqui River Valley

Nov. 4, 2021
Class 30 of Project CENTRL
Over the course of five days at the end of October, WRRC Program Manager Michael Seronde and his peers in Class 30 of Project CENTRL traveled to Ciudad Obregón in Sonora, Mexico to learn about the economic and political resources of the Yaqui River Valley and to gain perspective on issues of shared importance in AZ. Project CENTRL is a program of the Arizona Center for Rural Leadership, a non-profit public-private partnership with the UArizona’s Cooperative Extension. The trip to Mexico is part of Project CENTRL’s year-long leadership seminar series designed to equip emerging leaders with the tools necessary to serve their communities.  
The trip was hosted by Dr. Enrique Donnadieu Félix, president of the Consejo de Cuenca de los Ríos Yaqui-Mátape and emeritus professor of Economics at the Instituto Tecnológico de Sonora, and Dr. Zulema Isabel Corral Coronado, head of the Departamento de Contraduría y Finanzas, Instituto Tecnológico de Sonora. On each day, the group learned from experts on the ground about the agricultural resources of the region, the historical context that has shaped the political and environmental landscape, and the culture and society of our southern neighbors. Highlights of the program included a presentation on the region's water supply and agricultural economy from Fátima Rodríguez, Secretary of Agriculture, Livestock, Hydraulic Resources, Fisheries, and Aquaculture at the Government of the State of Sonora; a visit to the Norman E. Borlaug Experiment Station where participants learned about Norman Borlaug and current research on wheat adaptation to changing climate conditions; a tour of a sustainable shrimp farm; and a dairy farming collective serving Indigenous families.
The trip also included a visit to Yaqui Valley Irrigation District headquarters to learn about water resources in the Yaqui Valley. In addition to learning about the function of the District, its water sources, and delivery systems, an important part of the conversation was the relationship between non-Indigenous farmers and the Yaqui people, and the right to access Yaqui River water delivered through irrigation district infrastructure. To learn more about the people Indigenous to the region, the group visited a Yaqui cultural museum in the village of Cócorit, where they benefitted from a guided tour by classmate Rafael Tapia, a member of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe who serves as the VP of Programs at Partnership With Native Americans.
Image: Norman E. Borlaug Experiment Station, courtesy of Arizona Center for Rural Leadership

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