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Reincorporated people harvesting high quality coffee in Colombia. Photo: ARN Colombia
Bogota D.C. March 29, 2022.
The London Coffee Festival will be held from March 28 to April 4, an important exhibition in the United Kingdom that will bring together rural coffee and cocoa initiatives worldwide, including those led by people undergoing reincorporation and small-scale female producers from Colombia.
Andres Stapper Segrera, general director of the Agency for Reincorporation and Normalization (ARN) has been invited to share the economic sustainability processes promoted in Colombia as part of the Peace with Legality policy.
This participation is the result of joint work between the British Embassy in Colombia and the National Government to identify opportunities for development, peacebuilding and environmental protection.
This visit has a rich political and commercial agenda in which the director will have the opportunity to meet with members of the British government, NGOs, think tanks, and journalists to share the achievements that have ensured the transition to legality of around 13,000 people, and to strengthen the support from international actors towards the process.
This visit will include a trip to Belfast, Northern Ireland, where the Agency will have the opportunity to hear about the challenges and lessons learned from the Good Friday Agreement, Northern Ireland's peace treaty agreed in 1998.
The National Government - at the invitation of the British Embassy in Colombia - represented by the Agency for Reincorporation and Normalization (ARN) and coffee and cocoa production projects, led by women's organizations, communities affected by the armed conflict and people undergoing the process of reincorporation, will participate in the London Coffee Festival, the largest coffee event worldwide, from March 28 to April 4.
The British Embassy in Colombia together with the Colombian Embassy to the United Kingdom, have worked to arrange the first visit of the Agency for Reincorporation and Normalization (ARN) to England and Northern Ireland. Andres Stapper, ARN's general director, the British Ambassador to Colombia, Colin Martin-Reynolds CMG, the Colombian Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Alvaro Gomez Jaramillo will hold high-level meetings in order to share the progress made in the reincorporation process, discuss funding and cooperation opportunities, and explore research possibilities with the Agency.
The rural producers, along with the general director of the ARN and the British Ambassador to Colombia, will visit traders in the British market and will participate in coffee tasting sessions, talks and conferences. This agenda, led by the embassy and its ally Cataexport, will allow to share experiences and productive initiatives to promote peace, as well as to identify development and environmental protection opportunities.
In this edition of the festival, the participation of cocoa producers supported by the United Kingdom's Prosperity Program in Colombia stands out, as in the case of Carmen Erazo, leader of the Female Agricultural Entrepreneurs Association in Huila (Asociación de Mujeres Emprendedoras Agrícolas del Huila), and Otilia Cardenas, producer and member of a local cooperative that represents more than 80 families devoted to agriculture in Santander.
Chocolate Colombia - an initiative supported by the United Nations Multi-Partner Trust Fund for Peacebuilding and the Peace and Stabilization Program of the British Embassy - which represents 1,250 people from more than 9 productive organizations under the leadership of Elmer Zapata, will also participate.
As part of the delegation, producers undergoing the reincorporation process will participate in the Trópicos initiative and will represent 30 coffee production co-ops in Colombia as part of the National Coffee Roundtable. This initiative is the result of the economic sustainability component within the Peace with Legality policy, which has been supported by the international community and the private sector.
This participation in the London Coffee Festival is the result of a joint effort between the British Embassy in Colombia, the private sector and the National Government to identify opportunities for development, peacebuilding and environmental protection.
According to the general director of the Agency for Reincorporation and Normalization (ARN) "This visit is an opportunity to show the impact and transformation in the lives of rural producers in Colombia from initiatives that seek to consolidate agriculture as a livelihood, and contribute to prosperity and build reconciliation and peacebuilding bridges, as instructed by President Ivan Duque, who consistently seeks participation in such events as part of the Peace with Legality policy."
"We hope that with the support of our Prosperity Program and the Peace and Stabilization Fund of the British Embassy to Colombia, this agenda - focused on the cocoa and coffee supply chain in the UK - will be profitable and generate opportunities for Colombian producers in the British market. This will be a great opportunity to strengthen our commitment towards the reincorporation process as one of the main pillars for peacebuilding in Colombia," said Colin Martin-Reynolds CMG, British Ambassador to Colombia.
The joint work between the national government, the private and academic sectors, and the international community is key to work on the economic sustainability of thousands of rural producers and to support the initiatives of people undergoing the reincorporation process.
A day to share achievements before different sectors
During the visit to the United Kingdom, the agenda of ARN's Director General, Andres Stapper, will include an academic component, which will include a meeting with the Director of CONPEACE from Oxford University, where experiences will be shared and opportunities for technical cooperation will be identified. As well as meetings with presidents from well-known universities in London and with world-renowned think tanks such as Chatham House and the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS).
Meetings will also be held with NGOs that are internationally relevant in Human Rights and Post-Conflict, which have been following in detail the post-conflict in Colombia, such as ABColombia, Justice for Colombia, Conciliation Resources and Rodeemos el Diálogos, in order to share the progress of the reincorporation process.
The reincorporation process in Colombia has made progress with the approval of 4,089 collective and individual productive projects, involving 8,669 people with an investment of COP$69,339 million from the national government.
235 of the productive projects approved are coffee-related products, with an investment of more than COP$4,073 million, and 24 are related to cocoa, with more than COP$805 million allocated for their development.
The ARN has formed alliances to generate opportunities for people undergoing reincorporation, and 22 international actors have supported the process.
Since 2015 and through the United Nations Multi-Partner Trust Fund for Peacebuilding (MPTF), the Peace and Stabilization Fund of the British Embassy in Colombia has supported the reintegration of former combatants with US$ 41 million, based on an approach that promotes territorial peace, coexistence, reconciliation and non-stigmatization.
The United Kingdom's Prosperity Program in Colombia seeks to support the country's development through three lines of work: Agriculture, Infrastructure and Institutional Strengthening, unlocking economic opportunities and encouraging growth in post-conflict areas and areas affected by the armed conflict. Focusing on gender equality and the environment, the work that the Program has been carrying out since 2017 will benefit more than 17 million people in the country.
In preparation for this visit and through the Cross Embassy Cocoa Work Group, the Prosperity Program, the Peace and Stabilization Fund and UKPACT collected cocoa samples from farmers located in Santander, Arauca, Cordoba and Meta. These samples were processed by Cataexport and sent in advance to the United Kingdom to generate high-quality prospects during the London Coffee Festival. As a result, companies such as Bare Bones, Watch House and Cocoa Runners have already expressed interest in meeting the farmers and potentially purchasing their cocoa beans through Cataexport.
Cataexport is a Colombian specialty coffee exporter with experience working with small producers in the country. As an intermediary company, Cataexport assists producers in the process, logistics and administrative procedures to export their products abroad. Having joint ambitions to export Colombian cocoa to the United Kingdom, Cataexport has become the strategic ally of the United Kingdom Embassy for the consolidation of strategic contacts and for the future export of cocoa and coffee from the producers who will participate in this visit to London.