IFAD reaffirms its commitment to help Colombia overcome the effects of 50 years of conflict

A small farmer displays coffee crops on her plantation in Vereda las Piedras, Tambo region. Colombia has tremendous agricultural potential that has remained untapped for the last five decades. ©IFAD/Ricardo Gaitan
A small farmer displays coffee crops on her plantation in Vereda las Piedras, Tambo region. Colombia has tremendous agricultural potential that has remained untapped for the last five decades. ©IFAD/Ricardo Gaitan

Rome, 15 December 2016 – The Executive Board of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) today approved a new country strategy for Colombia, reaffirming the organization’s commitment to help the country overcome the effects of a 50-year conflict by promoting rural development.

With the new strategy, US$33 million will be invested in the country’s rural areas over the period 2017-2018 in addition to the existing allocation of nearly $70 million.

“In Colombia, rural development is not possible without peace, but peace will simply not be possible without rural development because one of the main reasons for the conflict was the neglect that Colombia’s rural people suffered,” said Jesús Quintana, IFAD Coordinator for the Andean Sub-region.

After almost four years of talks in Havana, Cuba, a peace agreement between the Government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) was reached last August but it was rejected in a country-wide referendum on 2 October.

The Government initiated consultations with those who had campaigned against the peace agreement and fresh talks between the State and representatives of the guerrilla group resumed in Havana. In record time, the two parties struck a deal by mid-November and signed a new peace agreement in Bogota on 24 November.

Shortly thereafter, Colombia’s Parliament endorsed the new peace agreement, which came into force on 1 December. The first part of the accord - the Agreement for an Integral Rural Reform - sets out an ambitious rural development plan which includes land distribution measures and puts small farmers centre stage.

“A lasting peace in Colombia will only be possible if small farmers have the right opportunities to develop and prosper. And the peace agreement is a massive step forward. It is designed to entirely transform rural people’s lives, providing long-due basic services that will allow rural communities to progress and thrive,” said Quintana.

Colombia has a huge agricultural potential that has remained untapped for the last five decades. Given the right conditions, small farmers could secure Colombia’s food sovereignty and make an enormous contribution to global food security. But the country needs help to implement the required reforms to achieve these goals.

“IFAD is ready to play its part in building a new, peaceful and prosperous Colombia. With this new strategy, we want to assure the Colombian people and the Government that IFAD’s 40 years of experience in rural development is now, more than ever, at their disposal,” said Quintana.

IFAD operations in the country will focus on helping small farmers to increase their productivity, competitiveness and income by providing them training, facilitating their access to means of production and strengthening their organizations. IFAD-funded projects will also improve small farmers’ access to markets and financial and public services, paying special attention to disadvantaged groups such as rural women and youth, indigenous peoples, Afro-descendant communities and victims of the conflict.

In parallel, IFAD will help the Colombian local, regional and national authorities improve their capacity to successfully implement the ambitious rural reforms included in the peace agreements.

Over the last few years, IFAD has contributed to the Colombian Government’s efforts to devise appropriate policies to address the challenges and neglect experienced by rural communities.

The ongoing IFAD-supported Trust and Opportunities Project, which began in 2014, is already exploring ways to tackle inequality and poverty in rural areas, promote equal access to basic services and help rebuild trust in communities torn apart by the conflict. Solutions found to reach these objectives will eventually serve as a model for new rural development initiatives. The project targets approximately 50,000 rural families living in extreme poverty across 17 departments in Colombia and involves a $69.9 million investment.

Activities funded by IFAD have also contributed to the work of the Mission for Rural Transformation. This initiative has produced a comprehensive body of policy advice on rural development issues and suggested a whole set of institutional changes, many of which are already underway, including new government agencies for rural development and agrarian reform.

“The road is long and much needs to be done, but there is no doubt that Colombia is on the right path. We want to walk that path hand-in-hand with Colombian society and authorities, rolling up our sleeves to reverse the neglect that rural areas have been subjected to in the past,” said Quintana.

 

Note to editors:

You can have access to video material on IFAD country programme in Colombia here.

Learn more about the IFAD country programme in Colombia here.

Jesús Quintana, IFAD’s Country Programme Manager for Colombia and Coordinator of the Andean Sub-region, is available for interviews.

To arrange an interview or for more details about IFAD operations in Colombia, contact:

Juan Ignacio Cortés
Communications Officer for Latin America and the Caribbean
Tel: +39 06 5459 2882
j.cortes@ifad.org

Press release No.: IFAD/83/2016 
IFAD invests in rural people, empowering them to reduce poverty, increase food security, improve nutrition and strengthen resilience. Since 1978, we have provided over US$18 billion in grants and low-interest loans to projects that have reached about 462 million people. IFAD is an international financial institution and a specialized United Nations agency based in Rome – the UN’s food and agriculture hub.