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Quindio: a regenerated, carbon negative and biodiverse territory to be proud of that delivers safe, nutritious and sufficient food for all

An Origin Designation for regenerative landscapes, products and companies nurturing people, food, biodiversity, climate and ecosystems

Photo of Nicolas Cock Duque
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Written by

Lead Applicant Organization Name

Asociación Colombiana de Bioinsumos (ASOBIOCOL) in partnership with Grupo E3 SAS (FOLU Colombia focal point)

Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Other

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

-Grupo E3 SAS (Ecologia, Economia y Etica) -FOLU Colombia -The Food and Landuse Coalition (FOLU) -BioProtection Global (Global Federation of BioProtection Associations) -Gobernación del Quindío, CRQ, Instituto Colombiano Agropecuario Seccional Quindío, Unidad de Planeación Rural Agropecuaria, Instituto Colombiano de Bienestar Familiar Seccional Quindío, Alcaldía de Armenia, Alcaldía de Pijao, Alcaldía de Génova, Alcaldía de Calarcá, Instituto Geográfico Agustín Codazzi, Comisión Regional de Competitividad e Innovación del Quindío. -Jardín Botánico del Quindío, Reserva La Rivera, Helena Adentro, Granja Ecológica La Esperanza, Servicio de A. Técnica Agropecuaria, Mentes en Transición, Aclab, Café territorio, Café el Ocaso, Agencia de Inversión del Quindío, Cámara de Comercio de Armenia y el Quindío, Aral Thel. Fedeorgánicos, Asohofrucol, Fedegan, Asoc, Colombiana de Médicos Veterinarios y Zootecnistas, Orgs. campesinas, indígenas

Website of Legally Registered Entity

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

  • 1-3 years

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


Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?


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

Quindío is a department in Colombia's Central Andes declared by UNESCO as a Coffee Cultural Landscape and covers an area of 1,845 km^2

What country is your selected Place located in?


Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

The Food and Land Use Coalition-FOLU is a community of organizations and individuals committed to the urgent need to transform the way we produce and consume food, and the way we use the planet for people, nature and weather. We support science-based solutions and help build a shared vision of the challenges and opportunities to drive collective and ambitious actions.

Our strength comes from a growing community, made up of people, countries, companies, FOLU ambassadors, funders and all those who believe in our mission: “to ensure that food and land use systems play their part in fulfilling the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and the Paris Agreement ”. This will ensure the future prosperity of all people and protect and restore the vital ecosystems of our planet.

We call on civil society actors, companies, investors, governments and international agencies, as well as the academy to change the narrative about the use of food and land, and thus generate changes through collaboration. We work as a coalition in policy adjustments, strengthening fair markets, generating circular business models, greater social inclusion, digital revolution, promotion of sustainable projects, effective communication and behavior change.

FOLU Colombia developed a FOLU vision and a FOLU roadmap for the country during 2017 and 2018.   In 2019, the first subnational FOLU exercise to define a vision and a roadmap was performed at Quindio (The Territory).    This vision and roadmap were developed and endorsed by multiple stakeholders including the civil society, the private sector, academia, NGOs, IGOs and the regional (Quindio Department) government including the former and current Governors.

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.

Quindío is the second smallest department of Colombia. It is in the western central region of the country, crossed by the Andes mountains. Its capital is Armenia. It is famous for the quality of the coffee plantations, its biodiversity, landscapes, colorful architecture, benign weather, variety of hotel accommodations and tourist landmarks. This department is located in a strategic area, in the center of the triangle formed by the three main cities of the country: Bogotá, Medellín and Cali. Quindío is the second-smallest Colombian department (0.2% of the national territory) with 12 municipalities. 

This department consisted entirely of mountain landscapes covered in tropical rainforest and Guadua bamboo forests that are being transformed and threatened by monoculture and extensive cattle ranching. The ground is enriched with ancient volcanic eruptions, raising its fertility. There are also many rivers and streams, including the Quindío River which rises in the Cocora Valley which host the "wax palm" a emblematic native species which is the tallest palm in the world.

The weather varies widely, having two rainy seasons (Apr. and Nov.) separated by two dry seasons. The annual precipitation is around 2,500 mm (98 in) and comes from the humidity of winds from the Pacific Ocean being cooled as they rise over the Andes. The average temperature is between 24 °C (75 °F) in the La Vieja river valley and 16 °C (61 °F) in Salento.

Although Quindío's economy is based mainly in the harvest of coffee (being one of the most important producers of Colombian coffee) its production and areas grown have been dramatically declining.  In 2007, Quindío had more than 78,000 hectares of shade grown coffee which have been changing towards a model of intensive caturra coffee monoculture. Today there are only about 23,000 hectares of coffee left.

The department belongs to the Colombian Coffee-Growers Axis which is the center of production and export of the highest quality coffee in Colombia.  92% of the area in agricultural crops of the department of Quindío is concentrated in five value chains (coffee, plantains, citrus, avocado, and banana) and only 3% in annual and transitory crops. Unfortunately, due to the current practices, productivity and the planted area of these five permanent crops have been decreasing in recent years.  Cassava, Salentune potato and sugarcane are also cultivated, mostly for sale in the local markets. Hass avocado, gulupa (native type of passion fruit) and pine apples are being grown by agroindustrial producers specially for the export market.

Quindío department is the main exponent of traditional Cultura Cafetera (coffee culture) in the country. There are several events all around the year that attracts a large number of visitors to this region. With the purpose of preserving this cultural expression, the regional government promoted the declaration of Patrimony of Humanity by the UNESCO (Coffee Cultural Landscape):

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.

The loss of ecosystems and their environmental services in a territory as small as Quindío can limit its possibility of being viable in the future. Even more when climate change is threatening vital services as water, which in the case of Quindío comes from its unique moors and permanent ice caps that are currently threatened by cattle ranching and monoculture.  An accelerated change in land use, has led to the transformation of coffee plantations into pastures for intensive livestock, increasing land use conflicts. 53% of Quindío department has forest vocation and only 1% is appropriate for livestock. However in 2020 only 27% of the territory had forest related uses and 31% is dedicated to pastures for livestock.

In economic terms the department of Quindío has been presenting higher growth rates than the national average.  Despite its historical agricultural vocation this sector has been losing participation in the region's GDP, passing from 32.75% in 1990 to 13.5% in 2014.   Food security is also threatened since today Quindio imports most of the food its inhabitants consume and the one that is locally produced is done with obsolete technologies (highly dependent on landuse changes, intensive practices, and on agrochemical and fossil fuel based external inputs).  On the other hand, the tourism sector has represented for Quindío a significant percentage of participation in the region´s GDP with 8.3% in 2017 (3rd most important touristic region of Colombia).

Quindio presented in 2018 a 14.1% unemployment rate, the highest at the departmental level in the country (significantly above the national average of 9.7%). One of the main causes of these trends has been the fall in international coffee prices since the late eighties. One of the consequences of coffee dependency and its price volatility has been the migration of rural communities to the country´s largest cities, significantly reducing the rural population to 13%, while the National average is 22%.   Quindío has the second oldest rural population in the country.

These challenges have motivated Quindians to rethink and generate new economies, including, cultural, agricultural, gastronomic, and nature based tourism.    Quindio has strategic ecosystems such as moors, foggy forests, the Cocora Valley and protected areas / national parks which are fundamental for the region´s water supply and to offer a differentiated portfolio for agro and ecotourism. 

A FOLU roadmap involving close to 60 entities and hundreds of persons was developed during 2019 with the hope that it serves as a policy guidance and vision for the multiple stakeholders implied in its regenerative transformation. In this context, Quindío must achieve a movement of conservation and regeneration that will lead to the recovery of its strategic ecosystems to ensure its viability and food systems.

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

The creation of new regenerative and restorative economies will lead to an economic, social, and environmental improvement in the department in terms of income, employment generation, productivity, sustainability, competitiveness, and food safety indices.  

Regenerative and restorative economies allow the recovery of ecosystem services that have been lost due to the reduction of the forests and biodiversity originally present in the region, enabling the improvement of the life quality of Quindio´s inhabitants. 

Ecosystem services were valued at US $ 6.120 per hectare per year, and include the provision of food, water, regulation of water flows and opportunities for recreation and tourism, among others (TEEB, 2009). In particular, it was calculated that, for every US $ 1 invested in the restoration of degraded Andean forests, economic benefits ranging between US $ 7.5 and US $ 30.9 could be generated (WRI, 2018), which means higher income for the inhabitants of the region and generation of rural jobs.

In addition, regenerative and restorative economies allow the reduction of erosion and improve soil quality, which results in greater productivity and use of resources such as water and nutrients. Achieving a balance between conservation and regenerative agriculture will allow Quindío to remain as an agricultural pantry and
tourism gem, also ensuring essential ecosystem services for its future such as water and the quality of its soils, while contributing to food safety.

Entrepreneurs and private sector commitment towards value generation through triple impact business models will lead to a positioning of the main value chains of Quindio in the national and international markets, with positive consequences on the production, environment and well-being of all Quindians.  Creating and transforming "FOLU companies" will increase the level of employment so necessary for the Department.

On the other hand, promoting local food production and consumption with short commercialization circuits encourages small farmers to achieve fairer and better paid products that revitalize rural peasant economies. At the same time, the Quindians
will have access to healthier, sufficient, and more nutritious foods near their home while reducing food losses and food waste. This in turn will have benefits by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Positioning Quindío as a regenerative landscape with a sustainable and regenerative agrifood system nationally and internationally recognized with an Origin Denomination, with a diversified product portfolio will place it in a virtuous circle of high value markets.

A more conscious, purpose driven, and triple impact capitalism es emerging and growing.  To grow the purpose driven companies of Quindío will contribute not only to their own profitability but also to the positioning of the department as a regenerative business ecosystem that improves the life quality of its inhabitants.

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.

Quindío is recognized as a territory that has gained a national and international reputation for forging a new economy of food and land use, through productive and regenerative landscapes, purpose driven companies and conscious markets guaranteeing sufficient, nutritious, and healthy food at each table of its inhabitants and visitors, with zero food losses and no food waste.

Quindío´s productive and biodiverse landscapes are an international benchmark in sustainability and are recognized globally with a denomination of origin that aknowledges and certifies a regenerative territory, which produces its own food from agroecological systems, regenerating soils and ecosystems, fixing CO2, nurturing biodiversity and providing environmental services for its own territory and the whole world.

100% of Quindío´s companies are purpose driven ones and behave as B Certified Companies.  They have managed to position themselves in national and international markets and are a model of inspiration based upon their productivity and regenerative impact on ecosystems and society.

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

Today in 2050, the food systems of Quindio are grounded upon regenerative agriculture practices (for which nature based solutions and bio-based crop protection, nutrition, and stimulation technologies are fundamental pillars).   Quindio´s agrifood systems are carbon negative (acting as Carbon sinks), with biodiverse and resilient landscapes, co-created and enabled by growers, purpose driven companies, and conscious consumers that deliver and have access to safe, nutritious, healthy, and sufficient food, on every dish, daily. 

This is one of the several best practice examples of food systems developed and nurtured with the the technologies delivered by the member companies of Asobiocol and BioProtection Global member Associations. It is a best practice example for demonstration, education and extension purposes in the different regions of Colombia and also in countries where BioProtection Global is present. The transformation of Quindio´s food systems were in great part enabled through the adoption of bioprotection solutions, enhancing the use of chemicals to be reduced to a minimum (less than 10%, as opposed to 95% in 2020) and in transition where possible to become zero. Safer products lead sustainable and regenerative agriculture that is safer, more protective, and restorative for humans and the environment. Our contribution has been to educate farmers in Quindio  to manage and achieve this transition delivering bio-based and nature based solutions. We have contributed with our bioprotection solutions to a natural footprint.

The FOLU vision and roadmap for Quindío was developed based upon four pillars: 1) An increased efficiency and resilience of agricultural systems, 2) Conservation and restoration of ecosystems and their biodiversity, 3) Minimizing food loss and food waste
4) Ensuring food security and promoting healthy diets.

An integral vision of these pillars and their concretion in the department of Quindío
led to the definition of three strategic axes and four transversal ones that enable a systemic and integrated approach that tackle the current (2020) and future (2050) environmental, dietary, economic, cultural, technological, and policy challenges.

Strategic Axis 1 - Productive and Regenerative Landscapes:  promoted new regenerative economies at a landscape scale, that transcended the sectoral and property vision to a shared, resilient, and inclusive landscape vision,  where multiple stakeholders who share the same territory reached agreements for regeneration and sustainability (first healing then sustaining). This axis enabled a focused approach from the public policies and private sector actions taking place in Quindio´s territory.

Strategic Axis 2 - Markets and Entrepreneurships with Purpose: which allowed more conscious and interdependent producers and consumers, that reached fairer and more equitable schemes, that enabled the generation of greater value along the different value networks, as well as the creation of new ventures and companies that delivered shared prosperity and triple impact. The global trend seen in 2020 that enabled a growing demand and supply of goods and services with a history behind that benefited sustainable communities and territories was identified as a great opportunity for a department like Quindío, rooted in the countryside, with a Coffee frowing tradition and culture now recognized by UNESCO not only as a Coffee Cultural Landscape but as a regenerative territory.

This axis focussed on the work from the farms, companies, associations and cooperatives (large and small) and demonstrated that a more conscious capitalism was possible.   

Strategic Axis 3 - Healthy Diets: Quindian´s manage to overcome the malnutrition and malnutrition paradox that the department was facing in the 2020s faces, through the promotion of actions to achieve its food security, sovereignty, and safety based upon its richness of climates and the fertility of its soils.   Dozens of native ancestral and native plant species are now part of Quindian´s, Colombian, and international citizen diets. Through this axis the almost elimination of food loss and food waste taking advantage of the size of the department and its central location to reach other national and international markets. This axis influenced individuals, producers, intermediaries of the food value chains and consumers, who progressively went through a rising awareness and behavioral changes in the way they produced and consumed, driving an awareness of healthy and safe food and valuing the circular economy, recycling and decrease of  food losses and food waste.

These three strategic axes were permeated by four large transversal axes which were transcendental for a systemic change. On the one hand, the Transversal Axis of Governance which promoted trust processes among the multiple stakeholders in the territory, which materialized through strategic multi-stakeholder and multi-level alliances, generating coordinated and synergistic actions, better opportunities for entrepreneurship and better jobs in rural areas, as well as the inclusion of different human groups, including indigenous communities, peasants, women and youth. The Transversal Axis of Innovative Financing was instrumental to deliver different financing options that enabled to deliver the capital required to scale and expand actions, while ensuring inclusion and sustainability with triple impact. The processes that are routed from the Axis of Communication and Education drove the required behavioral changes
for a regenerative economy and culture, giving a strategic transformation, awareness, and healing role to women, children and young people. The Axis of Tracking and
motivated all the stakeholders in the territory to participate in such a way
that angaged all of them to identify what, how and who contributed to the actions and
recommendations to which this Roadmap and Vision targeted, as a vision of systemic
This approach favored the articulated work between the different sectors and stakeholders for a comprehensive and sustainable management at the public policy and investment levels, allowing to surpass the silos approached that was predominant up to 2020. Its structure allowed addressing the challenges of food and land use systems
through a renewed and innovative perspective.

The clarity and alignment in the vision and the flexibility for the roadmap evolvement and implementation was instrumental to adapt and add ideas and to implement feasible actions to transform the agrifood systems of Quindio based upon bio and nature-based solutions for economic sustainability and agrifood system regeneration, as well as for the improvement of current and future life quality of its inhabitants, visitors, and external beneficiaries of this regenerative landscape.

How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?

  • Linkedin


Join the conversation:

Photo of Constanza Castano

Hi, Nicolas Cock Duque  ! Thank you for publishing!

Following the guidelines of the Prize, I would like you to have in mind that because envisioning a global food system is a massive undertaking, the Food System Vision Prize is focused on reimagining food systems on a smaller scale. We’re calling that area a Place. Otherwise, it may not remain very context-specific but become a generic idea. To make sure you Vision is systems-focused and community-centered enough we suggest you pick a place not more than 100,000km2.

I also invite you to dream further. How might your work today look like in 2050 if you were to upset the current trends and build a new trajectory for the future that inspires others around you to collaborate? What innovative contribution could make you stand out? To help you speculate what your future Vision could look like, you can find some guiding principles on Future Casting and inspiration in the Vision Prize Toolkit in Chapter 3 under Tools of Transformation.

Here is the link to the Prize Toolkit:

It is possible that mapping interconnections and relationships between components of your proposed system allow you as well to observe the emergence of unnoticed dynamics.

I look forward to hearing from you!


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