The project has developed in partnership with a Colombian organization, Apsaceasar (Cesar Agricultural Sector Professional Association). This partnership has enabled us to empower a local organization that shares our values and thus to take part in the development of the Colombian civil society.
The project is taking place beneath the mountain delimiting the border between Venezuela and Colombia, in the municipality of Becerril and the places known as Rio Maracas and Caño Rodriguo. Despite the geographical proximity of the two sites, we find a variety of landscapes, ranging from plains with very little woodland, to steeper areas richer in biodiversity.
The project is being developed by the mountain delimiting the border between Venezuela and Colombia, in the municipality of Becerril and the places known as Rio Maracas and Caño Rodriguo. Despite the geographical proximity of the two sites a variety of landscapes can be found there ranging from plains with very little woodland, to steeper areas richer in biodiversity.
The predicaments of the area
These areas are close to one of the world’s largest open-cast coal mines, and our projects must exemplify one of the possible alternatives to mining. Indeed, agriculture represents 30% of the district’s income, services 35% and the mine, which has now become the most important coal producing place in the country, 27% .
A vast majority of our farmers are cattle and maize producers. These are the only two sources of income for most of them, and income from cattle raising remains very hazardous. Climate change and deforestation have significantly reduced the sources of food for cattle, which in turn produce less and lower quality milk as the weather gets dryer. Grazing is often synonymous with slash-and-burn agriculture, which exacerbates the difficulties facing local farmers. Farmers who had been confronted with warfare in Colombia had left the area and only returned to the region about a decade ago.
The challenges involved in the project
Becerril’s project aims at developing the production of Maya Nut flour in order to favor a new, safer source of income, more respectful of nature while conserving the forests. The area is very rich in Maya Nut trees, and the habit of consuming their seeds is gradually abandoned to the benefit of corn or beans.
One of our objectives is to enhance that trend and to develop a chain from raw produce to agricultural products. Also, we want to help farmers develop better grazing practices to secure that source of income. This implies better water managing to avoid flooding and landslides, making cattle more resilient to climate change and restoring a richer ecosystem in the plots.