Yes or no to referendum
The Colombian Government, in its efforts to achieve a ceasefire and lasting peace, managed to reach an agreement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC-EP). This agreement was presented to Colombian citizens on 2 October 2016. With 50.2% voting "no", the agreement could not be effectively enforced. Despite these results, the president, Juan Manuel Santos, said that the bilateral ceasefire continues.
Peace Delegation of the National Government and the FARC-EP
The goal of the agreement is to prevent further armed conflict, which the country has suffered for more than 52 years, leaving more than 8 million victims. It is worth keeping in mind that 85% of the conflict is of rural origin and that four key issues are raised in the first chapter: access to and use of land; the establishment of special development programs, with a territorial approach; a radical reduction of poverty and the elimination of extreme poverty, and a special system to guarantee food and nutritional safety.
The conflict over land
Economist Luis Alfonso Moreno Ayala, contractor of the Victims Unit, Victim Reparation Fund, spoke to FreshPlaza on this subject. "Small and medium producers have trouble producing good volumes. This production is very precarious, with a maximum of 5 hectares per producer, so bringing together various producers to reach the volumes required for export is complicated. The precarious state of roads hinders most export initiatives. But we are not giving up; our growers need support to overcome this."
The vast majority of agricultural producers have been displaced to urban centres, dispossessed of their lands and forced to get used to urban conditions and misery. Now they have to return to the field lacking financial resources. "Seeing that the land was productive, the various illegal armed groups forced them to sell their land at unfair prices, thus taking possession of them," assures Moreno Ayala.
Reform and agricultural potential
Colombia has an investment plan to make this goal a reality. While initially the plan is to encourage and promote the cultivation of fruits and vegetables for domestic consumption, the future plan is to cultivate their own varieties for export. "A high percentage of what Colombia consumes is imported, but at least 29% of the Colombian productive land is being misused, as revealed by the analysis made by Codazzi (IGAC)," he affirms.
It is clear that this South American country has great agricultural potential, but the reality is that it suffers from a deficit in production and domestic consumption. "To this situation we must add that of the country's 114 million hectares that are suitable for agriculture, forestry and livestock, an average of 30% are subject to conflict. Of the total, 22 million hectares are suitable for agriculture, but only 5.3 million are currently in use. If we get the peace agreement signed, many investors will come to our country and help boost our economy," states Moreno.
Field visits, surveys and meetings with farmers
After 54 years working in rural economy areas, and on specific issues related to victims and demobilisation, Luis ended the interview by saying that "Colombia is not a dangerous country. It is a wonderful country with great potential, which has suffered from mismanagement and power conflicts. The international press has misinterpreted our situation and ventured many speculations that are out of place. We are now working on the issues that raise the most questions, so that an improved agreement can be reached, and I believe that one that will be accepted by all Colombians will be signed before 31 December 2016."
For more information:
Luis Alfonso Moreno Ayala
Government of Colombia