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Buriticá: Building a community, social oriented and sustainable food system through experiential knowledge in harmony with nature.

Nourishing communities, growing livelihoods.

Photo of Abel Villa
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Written by

Lead Applicant Organization Name

Progressive Farming Trust LLC (trading as The Organic Research Centre)

Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Small NGO (under 50 employees)

If part of a multi-stakeholder entity (i.e. team), provide the names of other organizations and types of stakeholders collaborating with you.

-Fundación Desarrollo Integral Local de la red Fundación Grupo Social -CEDAIT research group, University of Antioquia (Research Institution)

Website of Legally Registered Entity

How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?

  • Under 1 year

Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?

Progressive Farming Trust Ltd (trading as Organic Research Centre0, Trend Lodge, Strout Road, Cirencester GL7 6JN

Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?

United Kingdom

Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?

The municipality of Buritica, Department of Antioquia, Colombia.

What country is your selected Place located in?

The Republic of Colombia

Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

We’re a group of activities, researchers and academics from Colombia and The United Kingdom. We’re committed to creating social change with communities, for communities and within communities. Our objective is to understand and do social interventions to improve society. Based on this commitment and objective, we selected Buritica municipality. The underlying reason is due to three characteristics: First, it’s a rural community with a population with a significant percentage of young people within working age. Second, Buritica has a strong sense of community and service to one another, creating a social cohesion among its inhabitants. And third, social cohesion has been regarded as a mechanism to counteract the presence of FARC guerrillas and paramilitary groups. Buritica is important due to the duality in vocation. Buriticá considers itself an agro-mining community. Mining is paramounting due to the presence of a multinational mining company which carries out a project at the very heart of the municipality and the community itself. One of the sounding features of the mining project is the incorporation of modern mining technology. The mining also resonates with cultural background of Buriticá inhabitants with a long ancestral mining tradition. Agriculture, however, represents another aspect of their vocation. The community too bases its economy on the production of crops for food such as coffee, bananas, corn and beans. This food production is mostly dedicated to self-consumption and also supplies the nearby local markets such as Liborina, Peque, Giraldo and Santa Fe de Antioquia, all neighbouring Buritica. Therefore, we work with the community to envision a system clustered around people, leading their lives and improving the quality of life and livelihoods. We’ve been working together since july 2019. Buritica people want to enhance their identity and identify the vocation of the municipality based on iterative telling of the accounts.

Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.

For the past months, we have visited the municipality and approached the community to understand what Buritiquenos foresee as the future of their community, their agricultural activity and role of the current and future generations. Buritiquenos have clear expectations of the future of their community. Their main expectations are, having land and profitable agricultural production, better housing and employment and opportunities for younger generations. Buriticá sits in the Andes mountain range. Its geographical location and agro climatological conditions favor agriculture. In particular local food production by smallholder farmers. Buriticá has an average height of 1,624 MASL and an average temperature of 22 degrees celsius throughout the year. Buriticá has a bimodal precipitation. This means a rainfall regime of two periods per year, with an average of 1,300 mm per year. Also, Buriticá is a diverse geographical place, surrounded by natural ecosystems such as the dry tropical forest, humid forests and areas in constant natural transition where descendants of the “Katíos” an ethnic group, coexist and have been dedicated themselves to agriculture for generations. As of 2018 Buriticá has a population of 7,409 inhabitants. 51% of the total population is within working age. The food of the population is based on local crops with high protein content, such as Creole Beans, Corn, Cassava and Panela Water. The food is consumed locally and is equally needed by neighboring municipalities. People in Buritica are knowledgeable. Experiential knowledge is passed on from generation to generation. The experiential knowledge farmers have still is a dynamic social learning circle that younger generations benefit from. Farmers are conscious of the richfulness of the soil in their lands. Water for agriculture is available without jeopardizing human consumption. These two factors enhance the potential for a sustainable food system based on three main values: social oriented, environmentally friendly and financially viable. People in Buritica have the experiential knowledge to foresee and build a social oriented and sustainable food system around experiential knowledge in interaction with the dynamics of nature. An example of this is the cultivation of crops well adapted to a wide range of upper thermal floors and water availability. In Buritica all crops are grown in areas with high physical limitations: slopes greater than 30. There still persist an inability to technify production due to lack of capital, little knowledge and incorporation of appropriate technologies for a better and consistent level of agricultural productivity. All in all, Buritica Community has inhabitants full of aspirations, energy and imagination to carry out actions to improve their agricultural vocation, transform their community, territory and pave the way for future generations.



What is the approximate size of your Place, in square kilometers? (New question, not required)


What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?


Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.

Buritica community is concerned with the loss of forest due to deforestation of ecosystems. These ecosystems play the role of regulating climate, e.g CO2, and nitrogen cycles, among others. Should the current situation continue, soon climate change will irreversibly affect Buritica, pressing even more unplanned migration to cities. Diet is a cultural identity that derives from indigenous and spanish roots. This diet is mainly for women and men who work on the farm and agriculture daily. With the advancement of technology along with mining industry, more people will go towards sedentarism. Mining will continue to provide jobs which require more desk hours, let alone that obesity in children will become apparent and can potentially turn in to a public health issue. In 2018 the main income source for Buritiquenos was agriculture, with 77% and mining with 23%. Mining mainly supports families from the most urban areas of buritica. Should this trend continue, it will leave aside most of the population and thus making it an unsustainable activity. Agriculture is present all over the rural areas of Buritica with 2145 farms which are dedicated to self-consumption. For farmers, the challenges are soil degradation, desertification, the need for more sustainable agricultural practices, along with market linkages, nationwide and international and finally, road infrastructure to distribute fresh produce. As things go, agriculture will continue to be a difficult activity not only due to geographic conditions but also due to the lack of technology, its accessibility and technical assistance. One of the challenges is to rescue Buritica identity and enhance its Katios roots. Katios were committed defenders of the forest. Buritiquenos and Katios mutual acknowledgement should evolve into further caring conscious for the forest exchange of food between peoples.  Part of rescuing and enhancing Buritica identity is to empower the community as they suffered the conflict of FARC guerilla from 1998 to 2005. The connection Buritica people have become with their territory and their culture promoters of their own human rights and defenders of their territory. Buritica municipality has gone through ruling periods of bipartitian politics. There has been little indication of effective governance and leadership in the municipality to implement continuous projects and deliver tangible results to the community. There will continue to be interests in the territory from private corporations, particularly the mining industry along with the existing threat of other paramilitary and guerrilla groups. And technology wise: currently, there are 2145 farm units with low or non technified processes. 92% of farmers have no machinery to carry out agricultural activities, making it labour intensive. 72% of farmers make no use practices to systematically improve the health of soil. Their isolation presents difficulties to access technology that could well be applied to their geographic conditions. Despite good experiential knowledge any potential technology is out of sight which will trap farmers into a low value and their livelihoods into a hardly sustainable agricultural system.

Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.

The current context of Buritica has been shaped by a series of challenges. These challenges hinder the flourish of a community and social oriented food system. For it, Buritica has in its people and itself the tools to address their challenges to pave the way towards the future of food. Buritica people are the repositories and conveyors of experiential knowledge and defenders of their environment: place, land and forest. Buritica people form a community that cultivates and nourishes their experiential knowledge. Knowledge on climate, water and rain cycles are still pass on younger generations that keep up agriculture as a practice. The preservation of ancestrals seeds, the passing of experiences on how to cultivate their coffee, corn, sugar cane and cassava are practices that will mitigate desertification, soil erosion and conservation of arable land from mining industry. Buritica has gone through many years of intense violence and killings. The resilience of its community make them unique. The closeness of the community, their strong sense of belonging, and their mutual trust describe the resilience of its inhabitants. Buritica People know and greet each other, their families. These values work as channeling guide of people’s understanding of the caring of their place, their needs and their role in the community. Technology will co-work with people’s experiential knowledge in agriculture as an essential part of creating Buritica’s food system. Vertical Farming Systems (VFS) in conjunction with Territorial Laboratories (TL) from Antioquia University will introduce an innovative solution to challenges such as low productivity, water management, forest desertification and soil degradation. TL prepares work closely with communities to talk to them about a new technology in the territory for their use in the traditional farms. TL will address the challenge of increasing productivity about 10 times per unit area of cultivated land by extending crop production into the vertical dimension. Even where geographic conditions such as slopes present difficulties or soil fertility is compromised, these systems can still allow agriculture due to the need of no soil. VFS make use of technologies such as hydroponics, aeroponics, drip irrigation, waste management and efficient use of energy, automation, water re-capture, passive energy and led lighting, to improve productivity. Both technologies have been growing as a sustainable alternative for food production such as fodder for animal feed, vegetables, and fruits. In addition, TL as Technology Transfer process from the University of Antioquia, introduces new knowledge to farmer´s communities, from scientific and technical areas to combine them with their traditional and ancestral knowledge, as a support of using the new VFS technologies, as well as linking the output with the markets, and communities with Institutions to provide additional support.

High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.

Buritica people will be prosperous and happy doing agriculture, the activity they know and love to do, strengthening their roots in their community and transforming it by taking care of the environment, promoting sustainable practices, using technology to having better and higher yields and access to markets to promote and sell their produce. Buritica people will enhance and expand their experiential knowledge and will accomplish this by bringing younger generations into agriculture and exchanging visions between experienced and younger farmers. The experiential knowledge will be enriched. New practices will come into play. Vertical farming and Territorial laboratories will complement scientific and technical knowledge into the agricultural practices of Buritica. There will be a relationship of reciprocity in which both, experiential and scientific-technical knowledge will strengthen both communities, scientists-technicians and farmers. Vertical agriculture will incorporate technicalities, practicalities and needs of the context Buritica. And Territorial Laboratories will translate and communicate the language, routines, stories between the communities of farmers and scientists and technicians. The outcome is to strengthen the territory and community by enhancing agriculture as a traditional activity and make it competitive, healthy and protected the environment. And likewise, counteract illegal mining and diversified activities such as industrial mining, which ultimately will be a contributing effort to climate change. Transformation will be a belt that conveys continuation of the traditional life based on technology and competitiveness. Technology and competitiveness will also transform their routines and diets by introducing new crops, which will be adopted in their traditional cuisine without diminishing their gastronomic culture. Competitiveness in agriculture with linkages to local markets will create wealth for more jobs and enhance local entrepreneurship.

Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?

In 2050 Buritica people will have acquired and enhanced their consciousness, understanding, traditions and co-created experiential knowledge on diversified agriculture and nourishing diets with a wider breath of crops. Farmers located in town as well in the periphery areas of Buritica will grow and provide nutritious and sustainables food and animal feed for themselves and nearby communities, including Medellin city. Their livelihoods will have improved by having diversified higher and fairer income based on traditional and technified agriculture. These aspects of their livelihoods will be reflected with more rooted families staying and working on their land and for their community. In addition, Buritica people will have an ongoing interaction among their community members and with the environment which will continue to be embedded in current and incoming generations into the collective imagination of Buritiqueno identity. In 2050 Buritica will be a territory with more holistic and integral development. Educational programmes will be clustered around traditional agriculture along with technology and technification. This will be appealing to more younger generations as their needs and capabilities, technical and producers will be incorporated. As a result, innovation will be embedded in their daily practices and routines so that new opportunities for jobs, programmers, social initiatives will arise. The younger generations of farmers will have an enhanced and strengthened rural identity with strong sense of belonging and care for the environment that will continue to enlighten rural lives. Environmentally, Buritica people will too have further developed a holistic and integrated silvopastoral system. With this approach the Buritica food system will make up most of their natural resources while keeping enough resources for the system to regenerate itself and thus be present for future generations to come. Part of the vision of being regenerative is that agricultural and then silvopastoral practices are harmonised with the rain, water, dry cycles. Buritica people know how to preserve water resources and guarantee water supply and quality. Consequently the repertoire of agricultural practices and the holistic imagination of Buritica people will counteract the effects of industrial and illegal mining and mitigate climate change effects in the territory. Economically, Buritica municipality will have benefited from formal businesses due to more integrated value chains by smallholder farmers. These local short value chains will have added value to traditional crops and new improved and diversified arable crops. As a result, smallholder farmers will continue to support their families and needs, the community will have to keep up their traditions and a new appealing for Buritica will be born from citizens across Antioquia Department and Colombia. The underlying reason is that the consciousness, traditions and identity of Buritica people will be the story sustainable produce will convey. Culture and identity will remain intrinsically related with one another and embedded in Buritica people. As such, protection and preservation of natural resources and creation of sustainable wealth in light of ancestral indigenous values will prevail. The result is the amalgamation of new ways of production, conservation of habitat and the sustainability of rural livelihood. In this way the community will remain empowered and actively participating in the building up of the community based on their actual needs and circumstances. Finally, Buritica will have generated a virtuous circle of co-creation of knowledge from experiences of smallholder farmers and scientists and technicians. Along with this, new synergies will come up between experiences locals and accredited scientists which will feed on the upcoming challenges and practices in agriculture to continue with sustainable efforts, technological and producer capabilities and experiential knowledge.

How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?

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Photo of Abel Villa

working on it very hard

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