Colombia has a diverse culture that reflects the indigenous, Spanish and African origins of its people. Although the country is well endowed with abundant natural resources and is making progress in reducing violence, it still has one of the greatest levels of economic inequality in the world.
In 2018, monetary povert affected 27 per cent of the total population but 35.1 per cent of rural people. Poverty indicators are significantly higher among rural, indigenous and Afro-descendant populations. Today, in rural Colombia, 7.2 per cent of the population -3.5 million of citizens- live in extreme poverty.
In addition to poverty, there are other challenges such as the migrant flux coming from Venezuela – currently, more than 1.4 million of Venezuelans live in Colombia-, rising food insecurity –affecting 11% of children nationwide but 29% of indigenous children-, lack of opportunities for rural youth –that reaches 39%, and where youth unemployment is 18%-, the implementation to the Peace Agreements and the recurring violence from armed groups. This context affects Colombians, in particular, to those living in rural areas, where opportunities are limited.
This year, the Colombian government approved their National Development Plan 2018-2022, called "the Pact for Colombia, pact for equity", which aims at boosting equality, entrepreneurship and legality. It also promotes rural development through the acceleration of economic growth and the generation of equal opportunities for all. This pact is aligned with IFAD objectives as it includes opportunities for social and productive inclusion. In this regard, the plan focuses on access to labour markets and decent income, with special emphasis the poor and vulnerable populations (rural youth, women and indigenous people).
Moreover, currently the government is elaborating a National Strategy for International Cooperation, that will identify national priorities and be aligned with the Agenda 2030, in areas including peace building, migration, rural development and the orange economy.
Sustainable agriculture remains a key issue for the country, as one fifth of its population live in rural areas. Its contribution to the economy can be seen in the generation of
6.3 per cent of total GDP and 16.4 per cent of employment. Climate change continues to affect small-scale rural producers. Temperature increases and changes in precipitation patterns are likely to be the most significant climate changes in Colombia. Coastal areas are vulnerable to flooding events (which can increase infections such as dengue, malaria). Water shortages are likely to become more significant. This could impact irrigated agriculture, human health, and other sectors that rely on a consistent water supply.
In Colombia, IFAD loans and grants support two main objectives: i) support small-scale farmers and rural entrepreneurs to increase their productivity and income, through the improvement of their assets, their association capacity, their access to markets and to inclusive financial services; and ii) strengthen the institutional and legal framework at the territorial level, to foster the implementation of the agenda for rural development and peace agreements. IFAD interventions take place in prioritized territories within the government post-conflict strategy.
In this sense, IFAD country strategy is aligned with the NDP and the 2030 Agenda.
Key activities include:
- helping small-scale rural agricultural producers and entrepreneurs to significantly increase their productivity, competitiveness and incomes by enhancing their asset base, organizational capacity, access to markets for goods and services, and access to inclusive financial and public services.
- Partnering with strategic institutions –such as ART, DNP, MADR, RIMISP, ACUA Foundation, Capital Foundation-, to strengthen the public policy and institutional framework, especially at the territorial level, in order to implement the agenda for rural development that stems from the peace agreements.
- Articulating interventions and generating synergies with the RBA towards the achievement of the 2030 Agenda, in particular the SDG 2 – No hunger.
- Strengthening partnerships with the private sector to develop agribusinesses and provide long-term solutions to rural poverty.
- Scaling up innovations to tackle barriers and challenges such as food insecurity, climate change and rural poverty.
- After the Peace Agreements signed in 2016, there has been a resurgence in violence, leading to attacks in rural areas the last months.
- In 2018, 19.2 per cent of Colombia's population lived in rural areas and the agricultural sector generates an average of 6.3 per cent of total GDP and 16.4 per cent of the country’s employment.
- Rural poverty has many faces, not only in terms of monetary income, but also higher malnutrition rates and youth unemployment.
- Climate change is a serious threat to Colombia’s agricultural sector, especially to small producers, who are impacted differently by this threat.
- Private sector is a key ally to facilitate information flow across value chains, invest in infrastructure and integrate small-scale producers with local markets, to improve their incomes.
- Since 1981, IFAD has invested a total of US$111.3 million in four programmes and projects related to agricultural development in Colombia, benefiting more than 94,400 households.