A food system based on ecosystemic-thinking, capable of adapting to the different socio-economic, cultural and environmental contexts.
Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.
The members of the PSF foundation have so many different backgrounds and are passionate about their jobs. The two main project managers’ families come from the rural areas of Cundinamarca and Boyacá, places where food comes from Bogotá city. They always try to contribute to the rural transformation of those places by working with the french-Colombian international and interdisciplinary team of PSF.
We are the type of team that really makes much more than office work. In this order, we’ve been working together to identify the necessities of the 7 municipalities we work within Cundinamarca and Boyacá to help through our experience and knowledge to cope with the implications that the current food system has caused in these territories.
We are currently contributing to rural development in the places we have mentioned with our major program named ‘’Sembrando Confianza’’, which constitutes the social action to transform the food system model for rural areas of the Andean region. This program seeks to promote and implement agroecology in order to strengthen food security, nutrition, income generation, and the production of healthy and clean food. Through it, we provide agricultural training in the urban environment, constitute a network of producers and give access to potential clients and markets, and recover unused spaces to cultivate agricultural products and strengthen community integration processes.
Within this program, we currently carry out a project titled “Red Agroecológica de Mujeres Campesinas de Choachí y La Calera”, that involves three rural areas of Cundiamanrca, in which a real and strong relationship of confidence has been established between the members of PSF and the community. This is a good example to understand how our vision is viable because here, we aim to promote agriculture while enabling the economic growth for the families through the production and transformation of agroecological products to be responsibly commercialized.
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.
Importance of typical foods in cultural areas of incidence (english subtitles available).
The potato: the most typical crop people farm around the paramo (english subtitles available).
The ajiaco: one of the most famous soup in the area.
Women from the agroecological market network of RMABR making native plant seedlings.
Map of the municipalities where we are working with.
Juan, one of our farmers from the Sembrando Confianza’s agroecological market network preparing the land to be coped.
Paramo de Sumapaz, a strategic ecosystem to maintain water supply for the capital city of Bogotá. 2 hours walking from one of our farmer’s cops.
Installation of accurate technologies with Women’s agroecological network.
PSF staff and women’s agroecological network in Choachi La Calera.
Harvest of lettuce, cubios, and carrots.
You know you are in the Andean region when you start seeing people dressing ruanas and feeling the smell of traditional soups prepared with some of the most typical tubers like cubios, potato, arracacha, chuguas, corn. These soups are one of the most characteristic things you can find if you have the chance to eat it when they are made by traditional women’s hands.
The people in the described areas used to eat the food that they farmed. Potato crops are one of the characteristics of the Andean region, especially in areas close to paramos, strategic ecosystems that house unique fauna and flora species and provide varied ecosystem services. There are also crops such as peas and vegetables. However, nowadays, the livestock is important and extensive, which prevents from producing agricultural crops. In addition, the urban/rural breakdown is starting to prevent people from eating their own food and is providing them with more industrial products.
The language spoken in the areas we work with is Spanish. The temperature in the municipalities ranges from 10°C to 22°C and rarely falls below 6°C or rises above 24°C. The altitude is between 1560 meters to 3600 meters and the battle for Colombian independence happened in this area.
The Andean region is a wonderful place to visit but people in this place have to cope with problems like irregular income, low access to technology and markets, not being taken into account by the government. They aspire to more investment for the development of their communities as many people have emigrated from their towns due to the lack of opportunities.
Nowadays, in Colombia, the big cities supply themselves with agricultural products from isolated regions. Numerous intermediaries are included in the value chain of food, which increases the costs, decreases the quality and affect the strategic ecosystems. Furthermore, the local economy has changed because of the Free Trade Agreements (FTA). FTA have generated no viable competition for local farmers and producers, who have to decrease the prices of their products. These FTA support personal interests and do not put rural development as a priority. This also promotes the idea that consuming products that come from remote locations is a good way of living, despite the great potential of local agriculture.
Besides, according to the RUV (2019), 180.148 people from Cundinamarca and 43.800 people from Boyacá are victims of the armed conflict; this generates social tension and increases vulnerability index.
Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.
1. The environment of Cundinamarca and Boyacá is favorable to agriculture (wet and sunny). Nonetheless, global warming is impacting the food production there. Among other things, the wealth of biodiversity is threatened by human actions. Agriculture is abandoned by the inhabitants and the intensive use of agrochemicals to maintain potato crops has led to a high degree of soil degradation and affects the underground water currents. Studies by the National University of Colombia have shown that 30% of the land in the municipality of Choachí (Cundinamarca), for example, suffer from deterioration.
2. The consumption of foreign products sold at low prices is one of the major reasons for malnutrition. According to MinSalud (2018), the number of children under five years with malnutrition in Cundinamarca is 246299 and in Boyacá are 106079. In terms of obesity, the percentage of people in Cundinamarca that face that problem is 24,1% and in Boyacá the percentage reaches 5,6%.
3. According to the DANE (2018), the incidence of poverty in Cundinamarca rates the 16,4% and 26,6% in Boyacá, especially in rural areas. Also, the differences between women’s income and opportunities compared to the men ones reaches 12%, which makes more difficult to establish proper sources of revenue for everyone. The limited job opportunities in rural areas and the difficulty to access products and ways of commercialization prevent young people from continuing working the land.
4. In cultural terms, the current situation is not very encouraging since, as in many rural areas of the country, the new generations are not interested in giving continuity to the traditional practices of working the land. Thus, some agricultural species, that have yet important nutritious properties, are disappearing and traditional production and knowledge is fading.
5. The producers of the network of ecological markets have difficulties in accessing technology, since the costs of implementing applications and software to facilitate agricultural operations are very expensive. Internet access is not 100% guaranteed and the marketing platforms to ensure the sale of the crops are still quite precarious and basic.
6. Political leaders seem to be far from their inhabitants. The access to political decisions is limited and the partnerships between leaders and civil society are sometimes compromised. One or two years ago and because of the Paramo Law, people from these areas have been expropriated from their lands without any previous consultation nor financial compensation. It has deepened people’s vulnerability and increased distrust in political power.
Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.
1. Implementing our Agroecology program based on previous experiences to integrate all the strengths of the team for the benefit of the community through workshops, training, and facilities for the transition or transformation from conventional farming to agroecological production. This program will be ideally worked with the National University of Colombia and its faculty of agroecology and rural development, as well as with the Bogota region's network of agroecological markets RMABR for its singles in Spanish.
2. In terms of nutrition and food safety, we’ll make workshops with a view to raising awareness of the impact of food on health, the family and the environment. The aim is to create responsible, healthy and local consumption habits.
3. We will continue with the gender workshops that have already worked well in one of our projects in Choachí and La Calera, to promote economic emancipation through associativity, collaborative economies and the possibility of marketing the products of these experiences to make them economically, socially and environmentally sustainable and replicable with the support of the Sembrando Confianza online markets. The workshops will vary according to the social, economic and environmental context of each community we work with.
4. We’ll apply a methodology to safeguard the genetic and culinary heritage based on the ancestral knowledge of women and the biological territories they have inhabited. This methodology is supported by the ''Policy for the knowledge, safeguarding, and promotion of traditional food and cooking in Colombia'' a policy created by the authorities of the intangible cultural heritage linked to gastronomy in Colombia.
5. We'll implement a technological platform developed with universities, institutions and a partner organization to improve the match between the demand and supply of products and services that will come out from a co-creation work with producers and consumers of the network of Sembrando Confianza’s agroecological markets.
6. The experience obtained by working with the rural areas of the 8 municipalities shows that the local government has more power than major city government, that’s why we are going to work with social leaders.
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.
1. Beneficiaries are more independent from the conventional food system because agroecological practices promote reconnection with the land and help the process of achieving food sovereignty. The training given helps to develop the capacity to recognize the natural space they inhabit as part of an integral system that takes into account the role of each productive unit in relation to the biome. I connect myself, I connect my productive unit and then I connect my productive unit to the ecosystem.
2. Within beneficiary families, there is evidence of an improvement in the reduction of diseases caused by nutritional deficiencies and food imbalances such as obesity and malnutrition, which also represent a high cost for the state in logistical and economic terms.
3. Empowered women, with more possibilities of access to prosperous formal employment that improve their interpersonal and community relations. The results are evident in the transformation of work dynamics within rural families and, in the long term, help in the creation of a food system that promotes economic and gender equality.
4. The beneficiaries now value their ancestral knowledge more and do not give in to the intentions of the conventional food system that promotes monocultures and the use of agrochemicals that destroy the land and the traditions linked to food and the territories it inhabits.
5. Healthier crops, better protected strategic ecosystems, happier people, less food waste, better contact between producer and consumer, improved wellness of each person involved in agricultural processes.
6. People aware of the importance of having sovereignty over their territories who know their rights and restore their confidence in politics.
Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?
Land preparation for sowing as previewing in our planning of food safety projects.
Green fertilizer making with Women’s agroecological network of Sembrando Confianza.
Agro-ecological producer of wild berries from our market network Sembrandro Confianza.
Women taking advantage of polluting waste to make peri-uban gardens during one of our workshops of food security.
Weekly delivery of our agroecological markets to one of our conscious consumers.
Workshop of environmental education with children in the community.
We know that the current food system involves many actors and that many families find sustenance along the entire food value chain. However, we cannot deny that the practices of that system have negative implications for the environment, the economy, culture, and society.
In the specific case of the municipalities where we are working, the most recurrent comments are those involving the lack of access to adequate technologies to face climate change, the difficulties in starting up one's own business, the waste of food caused by the low demand for agro-ecological products, the lack of accompaniment to small producers, gender inequality, difficulties in accessing land and unfair competition from large producers.
In Colombia, these problems vary according to the region but usually have the same origin, which is why our Vision to achieve a resilient and inclusive food system adaptable to the global change to increase people's wellness is destined to be expanded to other places and communities with similar problems.
The Food System that we are working on will advocate local consumption, auto-production, barter, sustainable, no rural/urban breakdown, local and traditional production, free of agrochemicals and plastic.
We believe that it is important to transform the way of thinking about food production to start with transforming the conventional thinking about the food system, starting from one production that is based on traditional components, native seeds, ancestral species, and strategic ecosystems.
Our vision will be able to adapt the actual food system to the different contexts that would involve traditional ways of producing, respect for the cycles and seasons, and promotion of agroecological methods.
Beyond strictly raw production, the traditional cuisines of Colombia, as a whole, are part of the Cultural Heritage of the Nation. The food serves as an excuse to socialize and to bring the rural community closer to the urban community and to create and strengthen social bonds. Food systems encompass the entire range of actors and their interlinked value-adding activities involved in the production, aggregation, processing, distribution, consumption, and disposal of food products. The knowledge and appreciation of the territory’s environmental offer are essential to build a sustainable food system. It takes into account the agroecological cycles, which allows us to know in what season and moment each plant or animal, can be used in the best way. The knowledge about selection, maintenance, care and reproduction of species is also maintained. Tradition will then be crucial to reach a viable, sustainable, appropriate food system.
However, the tradition will also make space for modern methods. Working in collaboration with universities, institutions, and private enterprises, we will address the urgency of climate change by implementing appropriate technologies like cooling greenhouse constructed from renewable materials. These technologies will be implemented by the people involved in food production, with the participants of the already mentioned institutions and with our team’s help. The access to technology, provided at a low price, will allow a better match between offer and demand, will optimize production with the creation of technological tools like intelligent irrigation systems, online and actualized advice for agroecological methods, easy ways to announce the offer of agroecological products with the actual market networks from the RMABR, with new networks or even directly with consumers.
On the Horizon 2050, the communities that we are already working with will be producing the major part of the consumed food there. Food security will be achieved, and food sovereignty almost. The developed crops will allow to reach an adapted diet in terms of nutritional provision. Transformation units will be established, taking the knowledge that already exists and creating opportunities for people to develop their unit. The poverty and vulnerability will be diminished because each of the inhabitants will be able to take part in the newly created economy: by producing, exchanging, transforming. A healthy diet based on local products will then be affordable for all.
The new Food System will involve all actors of the economy, including those who usually suffer from exclusion (women, younger generations, etc.). It will allow women to get involved and get independence from their partners. It will be an opportunity, for them particularly, to generate their own income. Beyond strict production, barter will also be encouraged, creating social bonds between people. To make it functional, politics will be involved, and the partnership with local leaders will be taken more seriously by the government to regain trust in politics.
It’s important to mention that with our vision for the food future we are working for the following SDG: 1 (no poverty), 2 (zero hunger), 3 (Good health and well-being), 5 (gender equality), 8 (decent work and economic growth), 10 (reduce inequalities), 11 (sustainable cities and communities), 12 (responsible consumption and production), 15 (life on land) and 17 (partnerships for the goals).
We are currently working in the rural areas of 6 municipalities in Cundinamarca and 1 municipality of Boyacá.
Department of Cundinamarca: (24,210 km²)
- Municipality of La Calera 317 km2, rural areas of Mundo Nuevo (46,8 km²) and Los Cedros (4,73 km²)
- Municipality of Choachí 223 km2, rural areas of La Caja (4,95 km²) and Rosario (29,16 km²)
- Municipality of Subachoque 211.53 km2, rural areas of La Pradera (8,94km²)
- Municipality of Cachipay 56 km²
- Municipality of San Antonio de Tequendama 82 km², rural area of San José (2,87 km²)
- Municipality of Zipaquirá 197 km2, rural area of San Jorge (11,92 km²)
Department of Boyacá (23,189 km²)
- Municipality of Santa Sofía 78 km2, rural area 60 km2
Total current area: 225,37 km²
Total projected area: 47 399 km²
We also consider important to mention the exact number of people that lives in the incidence areas in what we work:
- Municipality of Choachi DANE (2020): 10 4 169 in total. 3 615 living in urban areas and 6 781 in rural areas.
- Municipality of La Calera DANE (2020): 29 235 in total. 12 809 living in urban areas and 16 426 in rural areas.
- Municipality of Subachoque DANE (2020): 13 712 in total, 6 648 living in urban areas and 11 064 in rural areas.
- Municipality of Zipaquirá DANE (2020): 132 419 in total, 116 622 living in urban areas and 15 797 in rural areas.
- Municipality of Santa Sofía DANE (2020): 2 514 in total, 686 living in urban areas and 1 828 in rural areas.