By Land and Rural Development Program in Colombia
When she returned to her land in Morroa, Sucre, Sirle Ruiz never imagined that ñame would be the crop that would help her reactivate her farm’s economy. The tropical tuber was once a mainstay for her family and she remembered how before the violence displaced her family, she helped her father sell it in town.
Farming became complicated when ‘la violencia’—the ongoing conflict between paramilitary, the military, and leftist guerrillas—arrived in the Montes de María region of the Colombian Caribbean. Besides losing their crops and livelihoods, her grandfather, a community leader, and her uncle were killed by guerrilla groups.
“After my grandfather died, my dad sold the plot for less than US$200, which was very little money,” she explained. “We were displaced and this affected us a lot. We were not used to being in the city, because we lived in the countryside.”
In 2014, Ruiz received a favorable land restitution ruling, which recognized their ownership of the land they were forced to abandon, and allowed them to come back to their farm. Since then, Ruiz has been an active member of the Cambimba Agriculture Association.