LRDP Monthly Highlights: January and February 2017

The Land and Rural Development Program (LRDP) is a five-year task order funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) under the Strengthening Tenure and Resource Rights (STARR) Indefinite Quantity Contract. LRDP is intended to assist the government of Colombia to strengthen its institutional capacity to develop tools, systems, and skills that will enable it to fulfill its mandate to resolve land issues at the heart of Colombia’s decades-long internal conflict.

Program Highlights

136 Families – Can begin cultivation on 300+ ha of land being fed by rehabilitated water districts in Cesar. The infra projects are part of the Program’s work to build capacity in designing and formulating public projects.

92,000 Hectares – Amount of land in the Meta-based Sikuani community’s land restitution claim. The Program, the LRU, and over 600 families worked together to prepare the characterization study that is a critical part of the indigenous community’s case.

24.5 MT of Cacao – Sales volume reported by farmers in Montes de María since signing a PPP with commercial partners like the National Chocolate Company in mid-2016. Sales represent revenue of US$63,000.

Tech Systems – The Program helped launch a new app for ag-information in Meta and rolled out an initial pilot of the Land Node, which will increase the efficiency of two key tasks for the LRU.

The USAID Land and Rural Development Program (LRDP) supports the government of Colombia to build the institutional architecture needed to effectively govern land in rural areas. At the national level, the program troubleshoots institutional policies and procedures that prevent GOC entities from administering land in an efficient and cost-effective manner. At a regional level, the program delivers packages of overlapping land and rural development interventions that increase access to the land and productive assets restituted families need to earn a livelihood.

News from the Program

Cesar’s departmental government in partnership with USAID and municipal leaders, finished the rehabilitation of five small-scale irrigation districts in the municipalities of Agustin Codazzi, Becerril, La Jagua de Ibirico, and Chimichagua. These districts provide irrigation to 314 hectares and involve the investment of about US$480,000. USAID began supporting the improvements in 2014 by financing the studies and design to facilitate execution. 136 families now use the irrigated land to cultivate food crops, fruit and raise cattle. In 2017, USAID will support the Department with the rest of its small-scale irrigation needs through the rehabilitation of an additional eight irrigation districts throughout Cesar, which will deliver irrigation to 878 hectares and benefit 373 families. These projects represent a public investment of about US$2 million, and a large portion of these resources was mobilized through the National Development Agency (ADR). USAID is now doing research on land formalization to determine what type of title support these families need.

604 indigenous Sikuani families approved a characterization study prepared by USAID in partnership with the Land Restitution Unit (LRU) office in Meta. The study represents a major part of the evidentiary material for the community’s land restitution claim to more than 92,000 hectares of ancestral lands. The study is an important piece of evidence that documents the history of infrastructural and environmental damages caused by the conflict and provides data on the location of combat zones, illicit crops, and the loss of natural resources. After the Sikuani families approved the study, the group’s restitution claim was signed by 46 community leaders. A favorable judgment would benefit all 604 of these indigenous families—who represent 2,636 people—and would protect them from future evictions.

Montes de María-based cacao farmer associations reported sales of 24.5 metric tons of cacao since signing a public-private partnership in mid-2016. The commercial partner, the National Chocolate Company, paid more than US$63,000, or an average of $3 per kilogram, which represents a 70% increase over the average price of $1.8/kg. A total of 2,586 kg. of cacao purchased—10% of the total—was classified as premium. The associations represent 180 rural families living in Montes de María. In addition, USAID facilitated a commercial agreement between fruit farmers in Northern Cauca and Colombian firm Caja de Compensación Comfandi. The agreement ensures purchasing of two metric tons of lulo fruit per month, at a fair price on average 30% higher than before. Initially, five indigenous families are particpating and others will sign on in the future.

USAID and the Secretariat of Agriculture in Meta launched new app SIGPA (Sistema de Gestion de Proyectos Agroprecuarios), which can be downloaded to smart phones. SIGPA allows users to find ag-related statistics from Meta, like former investments made in the agricultural sector from up to 10 years ago. The app also provides accounting templates for various value chains that can be used by farmers to track financial information, and it houses a database of producers to promote sharing information and networking. At the national level, USAID funded and facilitated the rollout of a pilot for the Land Node, a massive inter-agency network planned for 2018 that allows land agencies to share over 60 types of data in real time. This pilot allows the Land Restitution Unit to request and receive two types of information from the Agustin Codazzi Geographic Institute and the Victims Unit: cadastral certificates and the registry of victims displaced by the armed conflict. Previously, this information was exchanged through mail and took at least six days to reach the LRU. This technology will enable the LRU to process claims at faster speed and move closer to achieving their restitution targets.