Harper Adams University (HAU) researchers are
partnering with counter-parts in Colombia to seek solutions to agricultural conflicts in the Ariari region of Colombia in the eastern foothills of the Andes Mountains.
This effort will be supported with a grant of £179,531 from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) Conflict Intersections Development Awards.
“This collaboration combines rigorous quantitative analysis with participatory research methods to seek solutions to one of the persistence sources of conflict in Colombia,” said Professor James Lowenberg-DeBoer of Harper Adams University.
“Our Colombian colleagues bring to the project in-depth local knowledge of the agricultural potential and social/cultural environment.
“Harper Adams staff bring modelling expertise and experience with economic development in Africa, Asia and other parts of Latin America.”
The Ariari region is an exceptionally fertile area of the Orinocco River basin east of the Andes Mountains.
Large plantations of oil palm and other tree crops, mechanized rice farms, extensive cattle ranches, medium and small family farms focused on dairy and horticulture, and indigenous subsistence agriculture all compete for resources.
Family farms are in the majority, but only control a small proportion of the land.
To add to the economic and social complexity of the area, about 30 per cent of Colombian petroleum production occurs there.
The economic competition between these groups has been one of the roots of the armed conflict that has plagued the region over the past 50 years.
This project is made possible by a peace treaty with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Spanish acronym is the FARC) in 2016.
Ariari region is near the former FARC stronghold of La Macarena and in the past was a centre of cocaine production and other illegal activity.
With the disbanding of the FARC, area farmers are focusing on economic development through peaceful and legal entrepreneurship.
The Colombian partner institution is the Colombia Corporation for Agricultural Research, better known as Agrosavia, which is publicly funded institution under the auspices of the Ministry of Agriculture.
Agrosavia has the mandate to coordinate all the agricultural research in Colombia.
“In recent years, Agrosavia has developed a novel method to assess agri-food systems resilience and ensure future innovation considering not only biodiversity targets and sustainable development goals, but also, the aspirations and goals of local communities,” said Dr Oscar Forero, the Agrosavia principal investigator.
“Agrosavia is committed to innovations that enable the development of sustainable livelihoods among family farmers. The project in the Ariari will incorporate lessons learned from current pilots but also further expand identifying the most promising socioeconomic coexistence arrangements for increasing wellbeing of family farmers.”,
The project plans an iterative process of modelling and workshops with Ariari farmers and rural residents.