Project closed | Project period: 2011 – 2012
Strengthening structures by building expertise and cooperation
Despite Colombia’s dynamic economic growth in recent years, many inhabitants of the rural Antioquia district live below the national poverty line. Decades of civil war have forced many families, and especially young people, to flee to the cities. The aim of the Fruqueña initiative, which is tied to a multi-year action plan launched by the regional government of Antioquia, was to improve the social and economic structures in the region.
The initiative helped farmers and village communities form cooperatives as a way of increasing their income in the long term and improving future prospects especially for the region’s youth. 2011 – 2012, Siemens Stiftung in cooperation with the Colombian El Cinco foundation had been supporting the training of young farmers, with a focus on fruit growing.
In the meantime, the Fruqueña School of Fruit and Horticulture had turned out two graduating classes with more than 100 young people who had successfully completed vocational training as certified agricultural engineers. In fact, one group of graduates has founded a technical consulting firm.
The main objective of our project work in the field of Basic Needs & Social Entrepreneurship is to improve the quality of life in structurally weak regions. Rural Antioquia in Colombia is one such region. Despite Colombia’s dynamic economic growth, many people there live below the national poverty line.
The Fruqueña initiative was set out to strengthen social and entrepreneurial structures in the rural district, improving living conditions and creating opportunities for the region’s future.
What distinguishes Fruqueña?
- Supporting smallholder farmers in the region of Antioquia
Fruqueña supported 600 small farmers and their families in 13 communities that have suffered for decades from the latent civil war between guerrilla and paramilitary groups. The project was part of an action plan initiated by the regional government to improve living conditions in the countryside.
- Increasing income through cooperative organization
The small farmers focus on growing berries. By forming cooperatives, they can increase their share of the value chain from cultivation to marketing and together achieve easier access to domestic and export markets. Economic independence then becomes attainable.
- Training of young agricultural experts
Providing training for the younger generation was an integral part of the project. Instead of fleeing to the cities, young people were encouraged to take an active part in their region’s development so they have a reason to stay. In a horticultural school focused on fruit growing, they acquired specialized knowledge of technical innovations in the agricultural sector and were introduced to modern, environmentally sound farming methods. Organizational and commercial skill-building were also part of the curriculum.
- Establishment of a youth social enterprise to advise small farmers
After completing their vocational training, the certified agricultural engineers served as multipliers and consultants for local farms. The youth social enterprise “Asociación de líderes para el desarrollo agrícola” was founded for this purpose. In addition, the young people also helped promote integration in socially deprived areas.