A leader for all rural women in Colombia
When Lizette Del Valle moved to Guamito village in the municipality of El Carmen de Bolívar 25 years ago, the many farmers wanted to create a farmers’ association, but begrudgingly accepted the participation of women. For them, women had no place making decisions about what happens in the farming fields, and their roles should be linked to the household cooking and taking care of the family. Still, Lizette would accompany her husband and attend the meetings to see exactly who knew what.
“I said, ‘Wow, why not involve women too? They also need support from a farmer’s association.”
A few years went by, and she had the opportunity to become the legal representative of Asopromixgua, the association. She applied and won her position.
“I ran for that position because there were many women farmers in our village, and I wanted them to have a chance to be members like the men. It was hard. Many men said that a woman could not represent an association run by men.”
Under Lizette’s leadership, she managed to get 45 women involved as members of the association. Today, Asopromixgua is dedicated to the production of the root vegetable yam. Asopromixgua is a member of the USAID-facilitated Public-Private Partnership to improve marketing and processing of yam in the Montes de María region.
With the support of USAID-funded Land for Prosperity program, Lizette also became involved in land issues and is volunteering with the Municipal Land Office in her municipality to distribute information on land formalization and women’s rights. In 2021, Lizette won the Rural Woman of the Year award, sponsored by the SHE IS Foundation and the CEA Fundación. She received a computer as a prize, which today is being used to keep the books for Asopromixgua.
“I am happy to represent all rural women, because in Colombia there are many of us women who work and live in the countryside.”
Thanks to Lizette’s involvement, Asopromixgua has exported more than 22 metric tons of yams to the United States through a commercial partner that they met thanks to the PPP. The export directly benefits 80 families in Guamito, and Lizette’s association provided employment for 16 youth to load the container.
Asopromixgua and other members of the PPP have also benefited from the production of clean, quality yam starts in laboratories with the Colinnova Program, led by Confecámaras and the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation. The local seed bank was able to harvest almost one ton of seeds of the hawthorn yam and diamond varieties, which will enable it to expand planting in the next cycle.