Empowering farmers in rural Colombia

by Fundacion Amigos del Choco - AMICHOCO
Gilberto Murillo - Farmer and beneficiary
Gilberto Murillo - Farmer and beneficiary

Over the last 3 months AMICHOCÓ and Fundación Espavé have been developing the training workshops and activities with the beneficiary families of the analog forestry project in the Atrato river basin. This is the first step towards the creation and consolidation of family parcels of analog forestry and the future commercialization of the parcel products in international markets.

 The project has sensitized the communities and we have signed participation agreements with 16 families. Additionally, the project has successfully motivated these families and trained them in the analog forestry methodology which is critical for the achievement of the remaining milestones. During the initial phase of the project 20 families were involved but during the last month 4 families have left the project for various reasons: they decided they didn´t want the commitment or they left the area. Nevertheless, we have already been contacted by other families who wish to participate in the project and we are now getting them up to date on the activities and workshops done previously.

Presentation and motivation workshops

In the presentation and socialization session we had with the community the following topics were addressed:

  • Meaning and essence of the productive chain of forests products
  • Purpose of productive chain of forests products
  • Origin of the productive chain
  • Communities, organizations and institutions involved in the project.
  • How the process works
  • Process achievement and goals
  • Short and medium term challenges
  • Importance of the main species in the process: jagua, milpesos y murrapo.  
  • The concept of analog forestry
  • Materials, resources and assistance provided to the beneficiary families

Training workshops

The analog forestry workshops were done to train local farmers in the analog forestry methodology, the design of the parcels, how to measure the plot of land, how to dig the holes for the seeds and how to plant them.  During the workshops it was also presented to the farmers the chronological order in which the parcels will be planted, which species will be grown first and why? Additionally, a practical example was provided for the beneficiaries on each of the topics covered and agreements were signed between Espavé and each family representative to formalize the assistance that will be provided and the commitments made by the families. 

During the workshops 2 groups of 8 beneficiaries were trained during a 2 day period. The farmers received training in the following areas

- Basic concepts on analog forestry

- Benefits and importance on the analog forestry methodology

- Advantages and disadvantages of growing different species in simultaneous association

- Species that will be used in the analog forestry parcels

- Relevance of each species in the parcel system

- Criteria used for the selection of the species in the parcel arrangements: Origin, adaptability, market potential, diversified uses

- Order of introduction of the species into the system: initially murrapo will be planted then corn and the plantains.

- Distribution of the species in the analog forestry parcels: An image of how the parcel will be planted was presented to the assistants. The murrapo will be planted in 2 meter long lines, the seeds will be planted 50cm apart one from the other; Corn will be planted without any distance parameter; the Plantain will be planted in lines 4 meters apart from each other and 4 meters apart one seed from the other.

 Additionally, the field team has begun working on the individual design of the family parcels with each family unit. A general guideline was drafted in the analog forestry workshops which will be used by all of the beneficiary families and our team has gathered relevant information of the parcels current condition which will serve as a baseline for the design of the parcels. 

 The forestry arrangement that the field team proposes to implement is made up of the following species:

-          Murrapo

-          Plantains

-          Corn

-          Árbol del pan (serves as a wind breaking barrier)

-          Forrajero peanut

-          Mil pesos palms

-          Don Pedrito

-          Chontaduro

-          fruits such as borojó, jagua, guama, arazá, lemon

-          Timber species like cedro, roble, caidita, tachuelo, capitancillo  andgüino.

The design proposes to introduce 4 species simultaneously to the system: árbol de pan, murrapo, corn and plantain. These last two species will become productive in the short term (between 6 and 9 months after being planted), while the murrapo will take up to 2 years to produce “palmitos” and 3 years to produce fruit. The remaining species mentioned before will be introduced in the system in the third semester, according to a chronological order designed beforehand.

 Finally, the construction of the greenhouses has begun and we plant to have completed all of them by the end of July.

Work on Norberto Heredia´s parcel
Work on Norberto Heredia´s parcel
Visit to Farneth´s Parcel
Visit to Farneth´s Parcel
Family parcel before intervention
Family parcel before intervention

During the last months the Analog Forestry Project was socialized with 20 families from the municipalities of Puerto Conto, Napipí, San Martín, Bellavista and Vigía del Fuerte. The producer families were presented with the analog forestry methodology, the production chain on forest products and the field team. The short, medium and long term challenges and goals were also socialized and discussed as well as the benefits and obligations each family will have because of the initiative.

A diagnosis was made of each of the family units parcels and their surroundings. Their location was georefrenced and the conditions of the land and vegetation were assessed and recorded. Additionally, the different activities developed by the families in the parcels were identified and recorded (fishing, hunting, animal grazing, etc.) and a list of appropriate species for each parcel was determined.

It was observed that most of the parcels are in conditions to start working on the analog forestry methodology. Most of the parcels are located in high ground and a few were identified to be in lower ground near the river basin which poses challenges for the growth and maintenance of the analog parcels. Species that are resilient to floods and adapt to climate change will be bred here to assure the success of the project.

Family parcel suceptible to floods
Family parcel suceptible to floods
Atrato River
Atrato River

During the first month of the Analog Forestry project we had our first coordination meeting between AMICHOCÓ and Fundación Espavé. During this meeting we went over the project, its objectives, results and deliverables and we also reviewed the budget; the local coordination is currently doing the same exercise and planning the first meetings with the community and the beneficiary families.

The Local Coordination has gotten in touch and has already identified the first 20 families with which the project will work. These families are distributed as follows in the territory of Bojayá:

  • Puerto Conto - 4 families
  • Vigía del Fuerte – 8 families
  • Napipí - 4 families
  • San Martín - 1 family
  • Bellavista - 3 families

Finally, Espavé was awarded the SEED Initiative Award for its social business “Bosque Húmedo” which this project will support through its analog parcels.  The SEED Awards are an annual competition created by UNDP, UNEP and IUCN that identifies and supports promising small scale social and environmental entrepreneurs. AMICHOCÓ won the award with its Oro Verde program in 2009; making it the first time in history that 2 SEED Initiative Gold Winners collaborate in a specific project.

Community members
Community members
Community of Napipí
Community of Napipí



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Organization Information

Fundacion Amigos del Choco - AMICHOCO

Location: Envigado, Antioquia - Colombia
Website: http:/​/​www.amichoco.org
Fundacion Amigos del Choco - AMICHOCO
Project Leader:
María Villa
Program Assistant
Envigado, Antioquia Colombia

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