In Colombia, our Cerro Matoso operation is in its second year of a pilot Intelligent Land Management project.
The project involves 40 families in a community-led farming initiative, taking progressively greater levels of responsibility for their business.
An assessment of non-operational land assets around the operation found that the land formerly leased for grazing could be used to benefit the community.
Following extensive community consultation, Cerro Matoso and a community-formed company reached an agreement regarding use of the land. Cerro Matoso provided the initial technical and financial support and commissioned market research to support product selection and business capacity building.
Over 40 families now farm melons on the land, with both community and Cerro Matoso invested in the business and sharing responsibility for its successes and failures (e.g. crop failures, market fluctuations).
Incorporating the effects of projected climate change on product selection and yield is currently being considered, along with the long-term production potential of long-cycle products, such as cocoa and timber, and short-cycle products, like melons. Product diversification is recognised as important for business resilience.
The project aims to foster a spirit of entrepreneurship, build business capacity and deliver demonstrable economic benefit into the community.
The project has also highlighted the need to understand and adjust to the rhythm and pace of local community life and to recognise that change processes take time.
Early, long-term planning for a sustainable economic future allows time to explore options and opportunities, to trial approaches, to fail, learn and move forward, and to co-develop desired projects with local stakeholders and authorities.