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 that have so far paved 25 kilometers of dirt roads and improved irrigation ditches 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.
“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.”