Leading by Example: How cities came to link rural producers with urban food markets in Colombia | Oxfam | Food Security

Please download to get full document.

View again

of 13
All materials on our website are shared by users. If you have any questions about copyright issues, please report us to resolve them. We are always happy to assist you.
Information Report
Category:

Others

Published:

Views: 15 | Pages: 13

Extension: PDF | Download: 0

Share
Related documents
Description
Following decades of conflict and violence, millions of small farmers in Colombia remain economically excluded and trapped in poverty. Many city-dwellers and policy-makers are ignorant of their problems, or are not interested. However, an initiative in the capital Bogotá has strengthened links between rural and urban communities and has demonstrated that small producers can become political and economic actors – and that the small producer economy is not only viable, but can be an important part of the solution to urban food insecurity. To achieve this, small producers, NGOs, and municipal authorities have worked together, building a successful advocacy strategy based on a practical working model of access to markets.
Transcript
    3. Leading by Example How cities came to link rural producers with urban food markets in Colombia Due to advocating the local government, more than 2,000 small producers are now able to sell their produce directly in Bogotá, getting better prices for them as well as for urban consumers. ©Jesus Abab Colorado Following decades of conflict and violence, millions of small farmers in Colombia remain economically excluded and trapped in poverty. Many city-dwellers and policy-makers are ignorant of their problems, or are not interested. However, an initiative in the capital Bogotá has strengthened links between rural and urban communities and has demonstrated that small producers can become political and economic actors  –  and that the small producer economy is not only viable, but can be an important part of the solution to urban food insecurity. To achieve this, small producers, NGOs, and municipal authorities have worked together, building a successful advocacy strategy based on a practical working model of access to markets.    P  r  o  g  r  a  m  m  e   I  n  s   i  g   h   t  s      3. Leading by Example , Programme Insights, Oxfam GB. April 2011 1 Introduction For the past 40 years, Colombia has suffered from violent conflict involving illegal armed groups who, from the 1980s onwards, have colluded with the country’s drug cartels. This has led to gross violations of human rights, fuelled to a large extent by social inequality, poverty, and a lack of economic opportunities in rural areas. Peace talks between the Government and the main left-wing rebel group, FARC, collapsed in 2002. The recent process designed to demobilize the paramilitary groups has led to a culture of impunity, the concentration of land ownership, 1  and increasing control of political parties and institutions by members of these groups. 2  The appropriation of land and natural resources is one of the main drivers of the conflict in Colombia. There is a need to distribute at least seven million hectares of land in order for rural households to generate enough income to meet their basic needs (CEPAL). 3  Together with the political violence, drug-related crime has made Colombia one of the most violent countries in the world (BBC). 4  Armed conflict has displaced more than three million people (Acción Social), 5  and thousands have died. Throughout the country –  and especially in rural areas –  the rule of law is weak, corruption is rife, and human rights violations go unchallenged. Despite the years of violence, Colombia has maintained long-term economic growth and is one of the largest economies in Latin America. At the same time, however, inequality has risen and it is now the third most unequal country in Latin America and the ninth most unequal in the world (Conpes Social). 6  Rural areas in particular have lagged behind. While an estimated 39.8 per cent of Colombia’s urban population live in poverty, poor people in rural areas represent 65.2 per cent of the total population (DANE/DNP). 7  Rural women are particularly disadvantaged (MERDP), 8  as are as indigenous communities. To increase their economic alternatives and to boost their incomes, some small-scale farmers ( campesinos ) have turned to coca cultivation. In 2007, the number of households involved in growing the crop increased by 19 per cent to 90,000 (UNODC). 9  In its attempts to control the drug trade, the government has focused its efforts on pursuing the weaker part of the supply chain –  the coca growers –  while not putting enough effort into capturing cartel members. It is spraying illegal crops, but this has been costly and ineffective, and has damaged legitimate crops and the livelihoods of hundreds of innocent families (Ibid.). 10   ‘Because of the fumigations we have lost our crops, especially the plantains which are our main source of food and the crops we sell –  papaya, watermelon, and cantaloupes –  from which we earned a living. Now three of my seven children have gone to the mountains,    3. Leading by Example , Programme Insights, Oxfam GB. April 2011 2 to the coca crops,’ said one female small farmer of Afro -Caribbean descent, who in order to protect her own safety wished to remain anonymous. Box 1. The lure of the coca trade „What happened with maize here was that imported maize  started to come in at very low prices and we small producers could not lower our prices so much, so this motivated many producers to start to grow coca,‟ explains one small farmer from Cauca, who wishes to remain anonymous for security reasons.  Another sa ys: „Since we did not own land, my children had to work on the nearby farms where they earned around $7 a day. If they work harvesting coca crops they can earn $15 a day. But it scares me: if they start working with coca they may join the guerrillas. I am participating in this programme because I am trying to make a better life for my children.‟   As well as lacking public investment, 11  rural populations lack a strong voice to speak for them. Although there are some strong indigenous movements, there are few effective civil society organizations (CSOs) or mechanisms capable of holding the state to account. In addition, in the 1990s the economy was opened up to foreign competition without first putting in place measures to protect small farmers, and today huge numbers of people in rural areas are struggling to make ends meet. In some ways, there is a sense of Colombia being a country of two realities: in more affluent areas of the cities it is possible to live completely unaffected by the brutal conflict, while in rural areas violence, intense poverty, and a widespread sense of exclusion and disempowerment are daily challenges for millions of people. Making the case for change Small-scale agricultural producers supply 35 per cent of the food consumed in Colombia (Forero), 12  a proportion that rises to 67 per cent in the capital Bogotá (Food Master Plan). 13  However, the important role that small-scale producers play in the economy is not reflected in their incomes: millions of people reliant on small-scale agriculture live in poverty and more than five million suffer from malnutrition, in one of the most biodiverse and fertile countries in the world (FAO). 14  This is due in part to the weak position of small farmers in marketing their produce. Constraining factors include variable and limited access to land and markets, poor information and quality control, and lack of experience and power in negotiating market transactions. Much of the produce sold in urban markets is handled by commercial intermediaries, who buy from individual producers at low prices and then make a profit without adding any value to the products.    3. Leading by Example , Programme Insights, Oxfam GB. April 2011 3 In 2005, Oxfam GB embarked on a programme aimed at helping to overcome the barriers that prevent small farmers from getting fair returns from markets and at creating fairer commercial links between poor rural and urban populations. Its main implementing partner was the Instituto Latinoamericano de Servicios Legales Alternativos (ILSA), which works with peasant organizations and rural communities to protect the rights of poor rural people. 15  The other key partner was the Comité de Interlocución Campesino y Comunal (CICC), a committee that helped to co-ordinate and lead the project. 16  The idea was to support small-scale rural producers, especially women, by strengthening their role in the rural – urban food supply chain. At the same time, the intervention would make good-quality food available at affordable prices for low-income families in urban areas –  a win-win situation for both. Oxfam and its partners wanted to document practical examples that would persuade government that the campesino  (peasant) economy could become a driver of development, providing a route to economic growth and poverty reduction. By demonstrating that small-scale producers were worth investing in, they also hoped to gain legitimacy to lobby the US Congress on the potentially negative impacts of the US – Colombia Free Trade Agreement, which was being negotiated at the time. Social organization and advocacy to influence public policy were key com ponents of the programme. In 2003 Oxfam supported ILSA’s organization of the Agrarian Congress, which brought together more than 5,000 leaders from all over the country and led to the design of the Agrarian Mandate –  the first commonly agreed agenda for the rural sector. Box 2. Opening up dialogue, building trust  At the outset of the project, Oxfam and ILSA conducted research to obtain clear data on the potential of the peasant economy (ILSA). 17  They consulted with academics, political leaders who had worked with peasant movements, experts on rural women and their role in social movements, rural leaders, peasant organizations, INGOs, NGOs involved in agro-ecology, and peasant farmers, both men and women, with whom Oxfam was already working. As well as consulting with potential allies, the programme partners wanted to hear the opinions of those who did not necessarily share their views  –  for example, government officials who thought that the peasant economy was no longer viable and had been „sent to the scrap yard‟.  Consulting with opponents proved to be very useful, both in terms of gathering information and in gauging the levels of prejudice and mistrust harboured by public institutions and officials towards peasant farmers. Officials frequently expressed op inions such as, „The peasants are lazy, they support the armed groups, they take advantage of the drug mafias, and take their cut growing coca.‟ This made it abundantly clear that the problem was not simply one of information, but also one of trust and goodwill. Oxfam and ILSA realized that their work had to involve building trust between public officials and peasant farmers. As it turned out, this proved to be the single most important factor in the success of the project.
Recommended
View more...
We Need Your Support
Thank you for visiting our website and your interest in our free products and services. We are nonprofit website to share and download documents. To the running of this website, we need your help to support us.

Thanks to everyone for your continued support.

No, Thanks