30 March 2016 - For many years, UNODC has implemented alternative development initiatives in Colombia by providing technical assistance to over 100,000 family farms that were previously dependent on illicit crops for income. These projects also assist farmers in selling their products in competitive domestic and international markets.
The products of sustainable farm enterprises have now moved one step closer to home. Since February, hundreds of personnel and visitors can now purchase alternative development products on the premises of UNODC's office in Bogota.
To this end, vending machines, which dispense organic coffee and chocolate drinks, as well as a variety of snacks, such as premium chocolate bars, sweets and chocolate-coated coffee beans were recently installed. Once a month, a farmers' market will sell other products for household consumption, including certified cacao products, honey and spices. Some products are also available for local delivery. Leading alternative development farm enterprises, such as ASOMUCAN and COAGROBRISA, are responsible for supplying the products, with the proceeds then reinvested in related alternative development projects.
This initiative is part of a much broader advocacy and marketing strategy pursued jointly by UNODC, the Inter-American Development Bank and selected Colombian alternative development enterprises to showcase the commitment of farmers to the production of competitive quality products that promote peace, security and sustainable development in rural areas. Plans are underway to replicate this initiative in other United Nations offices in Bogota and elsewhere in the country. Additionally, this strategy of supporting alternative development will potentially spread to state agencies, such as the Colombian Presidential Agency of International Cooperation.
Alternative development is a strategy aimed at reducing and eliminating illicit crops and other illegal markets by promoting sustainable income-generating activities and enhance the rule of law. The success of this strategy requires strong and long-term political will at both central and local government levels. Including regions with illicit crops is integral to meeting broader national sustainable development objectives, including on better justice, health, education and infrastructure. Increased participation of farm communities in the planning, implementation and evaluation of strategies and programmes will be vital to the long-term success of alternative development in Colombia and elsewhere.