Reaping achievements: The Peace Network stands out at Expoguaviare

Through the farmers market at Expoguaviare, participants of the Peace Network highlighted their progress in collaborative work for agricultural production.

The Guaviare Peace Network´s organizations received awards for their associative work at ExpoGuaviare, the most important commercial showcase in this department of the Colombian Amazon. COOMFASOL received an award for the work they have extended beyond the Peace Network to cover a larger number of campesino (rural farmers) organizations in the region. ASOPROAFOM was also recognized for traveling the furthest distance to San José del Guaviare (they belong to the village of Guanapalo). ASOPROG was highlighted for its great variety of products, and ASOPROGEP for the greatest quantity of products.

The ExpoGuaviare meeting and marketing space, with its second edition, leaves a valuable result by increasing the confidence of campesino families about associative work and agricultural production. Flor Alba Quevedo, representative of COOMFASOL, emphasized that "we have seen the progress among participants adding value to their product and improving their presentation to the market and open sales elsewhere." Thanks to the support provided by COOMFASOL, a cooperative created as part of the Contingency Plan implemented by PASO Colombia, campesino families have seen the opportunities to undertake and market agricultural alternatives to coca crops in the region. 

Thanks to the marketing experience gained by COOMFASOL, the cooperative applied for and was selected as a member of the Municipal Committee of Campesino' Markets (which by Municipal Decree established the monthly campesino' markets in San José del Guaviare). With this progress, Quevedo highlights that "there were many organizations that had been formed, but in practice were still inactive. With the revitalization of the farmers markets, they realized that and came to us to strengthen them and give them a place to sell." As a result, more organizations are joining the network's proposal to promote the agricultural development of the territory and stimulate local economic activities. In this way, the Peace Network continues to be strengthened. PASO Colombia and the University of Notre Dame have accompanied 1,200 families who have left the illegal economy to produce and process food with clean practices. 

At the Expoguaviare farmers' market, members of the Peace Network sold products that were very well received and have received extensive support from the Network. For example, the Network has strengthened the work of an artisanal mill that produces clean panela from crops that used to be coca. Although the cooperative is aware of the slow process of restoring the land, it insists on and has used the advice provided by the Peace Network to improve the final presentation of its panelas and to find opportunities to sell in new local markets. Another example worth highlighting are the women of the network who have turned to raising laying hens to generate income for their families. "Most of them started with 20 or 30 hens, and as they received profits, they reinvested them in their projects and increased them to 200 or even 300 hens," says Diego Bustos, PASO advisor in Guaviare. In addition, network partners have provided training to promote alternative feeds, such as the use of fodder plants or homemade concentrates to reduce the use of industrial concentrates.

Projects such as these are what stood out at the Expoguaviare Farmers' Market, as evidenced by the 120 producers who participated through the associations that make up the Peace Network, and who generated sales of 12 million pesos. Thanks to this experience, we can now find products with the "Guaviare Peace Network" seal. This shows the process that these families have gone through in order to rescue the solidarity work and the variety of enterprises that are possible in their territory.

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Eggs and corn_Expoguaviare