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BUILDING ROADS FOR PEACE Paving the road to stability for licit activities in Colombia

Background

Stretching from the Colombian Andes and extending all the way to the Pacific Ocean lies the Valle de Cauca, 22,140 kilometers of valleys, rivers, and tropical dry forest. One of the most agriculturally productive regions in the country, this area was also a FARC stronghold for many years, and a region plagued with a high illicit crop presence and well-trafficked drug corridors.

The rural municipality of Florida is surrounded by rolling hills and green mountains, making transportation a major issue for many remote communities. While some producers in the region have easy access to main roads leading to potential buyers, many have been cut off from markets, the unpaved roads connecting them with potential buyers often difficult for them to navigate.

Four years ago, 25 women from La Union, Florida united to form ASOAVANZAR to improve their agricultural productivity by sharing best practices and aggregating their products to make them more attractive suppliers to formal markets.

Working with Producers to Markets Alliance

USAID’s PMA program began working with the association earlier this year, after recognizing the group's standing in the community and their willingness to adopt new technologies. Together, PMA and ASOAVANZAR members are leading infrastructure projects along 25 kilometers of dirt roads that have improved irrigation to reduce flooding, benefiting more than 3,100 producers in the area.

Ease of transport is critical for the community's farmers who use this road to get their produce to market. The Florida farmers are high-volume producers, with average weekly yields of 10 tons of bananas, 10 tons of coffee, half a ton of raspberries, 250 pounds of strawberries, 7 tons of other fruit and vegetables, 300 eggs, and 500 liters of milk.

ASOAVANZAR's president and co-founder Melba Nubia Correa said she has already seen the positive effect the road improvements have had on the quality of produce delivered to market.

Doña Melba Nubia Correa, president of ASOAVANZAR, and Doña Lijia Lara, a member of the association.
“As you can see, this was practically a dirt path...the improved roads bring a better quality of life. Most of our products are delivered by car, now they are less likely to spoil, and will reach the market in better condition.”
All photos credited to Fintrac Inc.

PMA is also providing training in organizational and environmental management capacity to the women of ASOAVANZAR, empowering them with the knowledge and skills necessary to maintain the roads and other infrastructure improvements longs after the program is gone.

The road to stability in Colombia is still being paved, and rural producers moving into licit activities with support from programs like PMA are key players in this transition to peace and economic growth. To date, the program has improved more than 125 kilometers of roads, linking thousands of producers to profitable markets.

Florida, Valle del Cauca, Colombia

The USAID-funded Producers to Markets Alliance program is implemented by Fintrac Inc. More information available at www.fintrac.com.

Credits:

All photos credited to Fintrac Inc.

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