Promoting sustainable rural economic development
Title: Sustainable Rural Economic Development (PRODES II)
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Lead executing agency: Colombian Presidential Agency of International Cooperation (APC-Colombia)
Overall term: 2018 to 2019
Colombia not only provides a good climate, it also possesses vast expanses of arable land. However, these areas are often used for extensive grazing or even left to lie fallow.
In addition, rural areas are largely cut off from Colombia’s otherwise dynamic economic development. The potential economic influence of larger cities as service and distribution centres is barely recognised, although they could provide a key impetus for rural development. As a result, local and regional markets are little developed.
At the same time, small-scale producers are usually poorly organised and therefore rarely integrated into economic processes. As small-scale producers are hardly able to meet local and regional demand, they are often not even considered by potential customers. Furthermore, there is a lack of employment prospects for young people in their home region. Many migrate to cities, while the elderly stay behind. The absence of new generations in businesses and farms weakens rural economic cycles in the long term and has an impact on the country’s food security.
Sustainable rural economic development is strengthened in selected sectors and regions and includes economically disadvantaged sections of the population.
Alliances between local, regional and national stakeholders in the Meta, Norte de Santander and Caquetá regions use specific examples to demonstrate what green and inclusive economic development in rural areas can achieve. The aim is to boost income and employment for disadvantaged population groups, while at the same time ensuring natural resources are used sparingly. This includes using farmers’ markets as an opportunity for direct marketing, alternative production methods in buffer zones of natural parks, local ecotourism initiatives and sustainable livestock and fish farming.
In order to improve economic prospects for young people in rural areas, the project is working with government job creation and business start-up programmes. The emphasis here is on gearing these programmes more towards the needs of young people and the private sector.
In the current phase of the project the focus is on state-run and private-sector partners implementing the jointly developed approaches in other communities within the project regions and in other parts of the country. This also offers opportunities for implementing the peace agreement and creates opportunities to make a living in the regions badly affected by the conflict, for example through new tourist destinations.
Incomes are rising and employment is increasing. Dairy farmers, for instance, are able to improve milk quality by introducing basic solar milk cooling on their farms, thereby getting paid more for their milk. In fruit and vegetable production, certification that confirms producers ‘good agricultural practice’ not only enables prices to rise but also allows farmers to have long-term supplier relationships with regional buyers. Young people in particular also take part in the initial stage of processing agricultural produce, thus creating employment prospects.
The successful approaches developed in the predecessor project since 2014 in the three project regions are now being applied by various partners in other regions. The Ministry of Environment is setting up additional ‘green contact points’ that support local businesses in implementing their green business ideas in cooperation with the environmental authorities in Putumayo and the Amazon region. The Vegetable and Fruit Growers’ Association of Colombia, ASOHOFRUCOL, supports producers in Santander and César with certification and marketing.