Food and agricultural programmes can help reduce displacement from Colombia’s rural areas. This is what happened in the Cofán indigenous reserve along the Afilador river, in Southern Putumayo. Rural communities like these, have lived for years between armed groups and the government.
Locals were killed, many fled and the isolation imposed by the conflict limited their self-reliance and trade opportunities. Bogota ended up implementing a land-fumigation policy to eradicate coca production. Here fumigations started in 2005 and finished in 2013. This practice seriously damaged food crops and water quality too.
This is why the Cofán were chosen to benefit from the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation’s (FAO)- food security project. The FAO regularly follows up after the previous year’s training.
The Cofán were given seeds to plant crops, and were trained in effective agricultural practices and the results are encouraging.
Today they go on with the activities they learnt, but they choose their own crops and they apply these techniques in their private gardens too.
Confinement is still affecting rural areas. Food insecurity and malnutrition are the main consequences. In 2009 over 30 indigenous communities were considered at risk of extinction due to the conflict.