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 what is an acceptable competitive price for their products which leaves them vulnerable to predatory intermediaries, who often pay farmers lower than market prices for their crops. 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 produce to an end-buyer.

 

The Innovation

While some barriers faced by smallholder farmers are unique to Colombia, most are similar in nature to those faced by smallholders globally. Therefore, CGEP saw a unique opportunity to transform the agricultural sector in Boyacá from subsistence farming to commercial viability to meet the growing domestic demand for produce in Colombia.

In response to this market gap, CGEP replicated their supply chain enterprise model in Colombia and facilitated a $1.45 million investment to create Acceso Boyacá S.A.S (Acceso Boyacá) to remove the key barriers faced by smallholder farmers. Acceso Boyacá purchases fruits and vegetables, like tomatoes, carrots, and onions, from rural farmers at market-competitive prices and provides them with affordable credit services as well as essential training in good agricultural practices, and ensures farmers have access to quality seeds and fertilizers which will 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 looks at the entirety of the value chain by then selling the produce they have purchased from these smallholder producers to main customers including Exito, Makro, and Vive Agro.

 

The Impact

Since 2015, Acceso Boyacá has been working to train 100 farmers and positively impact the lives of 440 individuals including farmers' families and workers. 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. Prior to the creation of Acceso Boyacá, youth had few employment opportunities in the region and had no other choice but to leave their homes and families to search for work in Bogotá, the capital city of Colombia, seeking better opportunities which were often difficult to obtain.

Crops: Apples, pears, plums, golden berries, strawberries, blackberries, tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, sugar and snow peas, beans, white onions, and green onions.

 

Acceso Boyaca