Close to half of the population in Boyacá, Colombia is rural and employed in smallholder agriculture, which accounts for 80 percent of the region’s agricultural production. Boyacá is considered Bogota’s breadbasket because of the region’s rich soil and advantageous climate. It has the ability to produce an agricultural surplus which is vital for the country as a whole; yet, the smallholder farmers occupying this region face many barriers preventing them from achieving their full potential and optimizing their productivity.

The Challenge

The smallholder farmers who occupy this region often have little to no information about end-markets and acceptable competitive prices for their products which leaves them vulnerable to predatory intermediaries, who often pay farmers lower than market prices. Furthermore, they lack access to essential training in good agricultural practices, reliable irrigation systems, and quality inputs, such as seeds and soil supplements. They rarely earn enough to invest in needed machinery or tools, and do not have access to affordable credit. When their crops are ready, they face further obstacles including inadequate rural road systems and lack of cold storage facilities to deliver their products to end buyers.

 

The Innovation

In response to this market gap, CGEP replicated their farmer services and aggregation model in Colombia and facilitated a $1.45 million investment to create Acceso Boyacá S.A.S (Acceso Boyacá) to help remove the key barriers faced by smallholder farmers. Acceso Boyacá purchases fruits and vegetables, like tomatoes, carrots, and onions, from smallholder farmers at market-competitive prices, provides them with inputs, essential training on good agricultural practices, and ensures farmers have access to quality seeds and fertilizers which significantly improve the quality and yields of the produce they grow. Together, these activities aim to increase the income earning potential of the smallholders. Acceso Boyacá then sells the produce they have purchased from these smallholder producers to local retailers including Exito, Makro, and Olimpica.

 
The Impact

By the end of 2016, Acceso Colombia had trained more than 300 farmers in Boyacá and had positively impacted the lives of more than 2,700 individuals including farmers' families and workers through higher productivity, stable markets, and increased incomes. With better knowledge, targeted inputs, services and available credit, these farmers can increase their current yields with minimal cost increases. Yields for other crops also stand to improve due to better rotation, allowing farmers to diversify their sources of revenue.

Acceso Boyacá is also creating new employment opportunities and providing incentives that encourage young rural women and men to choose agriculture as a means of employment.

Crops: More than 60 fruits and vegetables. Examples include apples, pears, plums, golden berries, strawberries, blackberries, tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, sugar and snow peas, beans, white onions, and green onions.

Acceso Boyaca