Organic Farming in Poland as Example of Organic Farming in CEE Countries - from farm to plate", 25-29 July 2005, Warsaw and Culavia - Pomerania,
ENAOS 2005 - 4th ENAOS Summer Meeting

organised within the framework of the Avalon Network Project financed by

European Commision
Warsaw Agricultural University,
Faculty of Human Nutricion and Consumer Science,
Faculty of Agriculture and Biology
Dutch National Postcode Lottery Ministry of National Education And Sport
Country presentations

COLOMBIA - General situation of organic agriculture in Colombia –organic food market in Colombia

Maria Cecilia Medina Gutierrez

The development of OF in Colombia began by the end of the 1980s. It.was favored by the work of organizations with social consciousness and sensibility, which enhanced information flows, rural education, and internal organization for marketing, management and in some cases relation to international development support agencies. NGOs and some religious organizations working with rural communities applied the method called „Diálogo de saberes“ (knowledge in exchange) learning a lot about traditional knowledge of the communities. This method is a permanent exchange about the local resources and values. The process strengthens the sense of community membership, self confidence and let people recognize the value of their own culture and the role they play as guardians and protectors of their own food and independence. Meetings to encourage the use of traditional food and seed exchange are part of it. Many manuals on organic agriculture in the tropics have been written as result of this work, mostly generated through field work.

External cooperation agencies are financing the presence of peasant and indigenous organizations in international fairs like ANUGA or BIOFACH in Germany, or financing experts to support the connection with international markets, or the arrangements to get agroindustrial machines.

Today, the REDAE (national network for ecological agriculture) unites the people working or supporting OF in Colombia. Another network „RDS“ (red de desarrollo sostenible de Colombia - Net for sustainable development) is also connected to REDAE.

There is inequality of land tenure in Colombia. In the year 1988 a million peasant units, 62,4% of all agricultural properties held only 5.2% of the area farmed; the mean size of the parcels was 1,2 ha. This small farms are often on eroded, sloping and not very fertile land. Some forced displacement caused by social and armed conflict cause the abandonment of the production units and migrations. Because of internal political decisions on food imports and the fall of coffee prices, a lot of peasants were ruined or lost their jobs. For them it was not easy to switch to alternative cultures being coffee a perennial crop, so they must survive collecting or cultivating coca leaf and poppies, which is better paid or joining guerilla gruops or the army. Nevertheless some organizations working on organic agriculture, survived that crisis because of the better prices of their products in international markets. This makes of OF an alternative if the producers achieve a short market chain. This is the case of ASPROME, an umbrella organization for other eleven peasant, indigenous, women and afrolatinoamericans organizations. They export organic fruits, dried foods, jams, coffee.

The first resolution on OF appeared with the number 0544 from December 21/1995. As the possibility to export organic products with better prices was recognized by the government some political regulations were issued and the resolution from 1995 was replaced by the resolution 0074 from 2002. New resolutions related to organic production, transformation and commercialization were created. Examples are the resolution 00150 from year 2003 concerning soil conditioners and fertilizers, the resolution 00375 from year 2003 for vegetable extracts and biological components, the resolution 00148 from year 2004 creating the national ecological seal and giving the right to use and manage it to certification agencies.

Part of the government programs on OF is PRONATTA, a national program for technology transfer that also supports OF research projects. The „Plan nacional de Mercados Verdes“ is a program of the ministry of the environment for the creation of „green markets“. It tries to extend the market of organic products connecting the producers with supermarket chains, restaurants chains and organizing meeting points to promote organic products. Institutions working on organic topics and sustainability are supported by the government. This is the case of the Instituto Alexander von Humboldt, dedicated to research on biodiversity topics to create new business opportunities.

As a contradiction, the government supports political decisions that threaten the organic agriculture inside the country. One example is the permission to fumigate illegal cultures, serving the interest of US companies which produce the herbicide, the military equipment for their use and earns money doing the fumigation. The herbicides affect natural ecosystems and contaminate water and food from communities. The control of food prices and the imports of cheaper food, sometimes from lands producing food with transgenic plants, are affecting the Colombian food producers. The permission to introduce transgenic seeds in the year 2002 was fortunately stopped and raised a big protest in the Colombian society in year 2003.


The first farms inspected by IFOAM accredited inspectors in the year 1988 in Cauca were producing panela (raw sugar cane blocks) for export, in the Caribic Coast, coffee, bananas and palm oil (1990-1991). In 1992 the first Colombian association of organic coffee growers was created in Cauca (ACOC) with the support of the NGO Instituto Mayor Campesino. There were a lot of initiatives producing not certified organic products since that time. Today, because of the marketing reasons, there are some national certification agencies like Biolatina, Biotrópico, SGS Colombia (Société Générale de Surveillance), CCI (Corporación Colombia Intenacional), Bureau Verites QI de Colombia, Cidet ,and international certification agencies like NATURLAND, ECOCERT, OCIA-Organic Crop Improvement Association, BCS Öko-Garantie International operating in Colombia. Japanese, American and EU certifications are needed to be accepted in these markets. A study was conducted to create support for organic certification; the so called ECOS project (Estímulo a la certificación orgánica sostenible).

The majority of organic producers are being burdened with the additional cost of the certification. This makes the internal prizes of organic products high, difficulting the development of organic agriculture, since people cannot afford to pay for the organic food in the domestic markets. Because the certification process was developed without enough participation of the Colombian organic producers and NGOs, some of them refuse so undergo certification. These producers do not want their products to be more expensive because of it. They say the institutions in charge of the certification have no real organic philosophy or knowledge of the national organic producing systems. A lost of organic values happens if products are only affordable for high income society groups. This is how an alternative movement developed; trying to continue working with confidence markets, which already existed before the regulations were issued. They work with the word of the producers, and the internal control system of the communities, they have the farmers´ own seals, and are associating in groups to sell in organic community shops or peasant markets. This kind of movements ia supported by the Latin-American and Caribic Agroecology Movement, MAELA- (Moviemiento Agroecológico Latinoamericano).

Export market

The export quantities have increased in the last years from 4 million US dollar in 1998 to 19 million US Dollar in the year 2002. Today, Colombia has 37000 ha certified as organic. The exporters are private and associate Colombian producers. One producing company already has representation agencies in North America, Australia, New Zealand, Germany and Japan. Other producers are associated to deliver enough market quantities and to pay the certification. They go to the international fairs like Biofach Japan, Germany, Brazil. The products in this segment are the same products in which Colombia has experience from the conventional markets, some organic products being exported now are: coffee, green coffee, frozen dried coffee, palm oil, spreads, margarine, kernel oils, non dairy coffee creamers, molasses, sugar syrup, seje oil (Oenocarpus batauea), coconut oil, cocoa, chocolate liquor, cocoa butter, cocoa powder, organic fruits (mango, bananas, raspberries), jams, dried fruits, concentrated fruits, flowers and ornamental plants. Other products with export possibilities have not yet achieved the quantities to be offered continuously. Examples are: spices, potatoes, green pods, peppers, tomatoes, garlic, cucumbers, asparragus, artichokes, melons, water melons, citrus fruits (lemon, oranges), grapes, strawberries, raspberries, avocados, pinapples, maracuyas, papayas, pitayas and other exotic fruits.

Buyers of Colombian products are USA, France, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Germany, Japan and Belgium.

Internal market

In the domestic market the prices of organic products are sometimes more than twice the price of non organic products. Some brand names have bean created to sell organic products. Products mainly for the domestic market are: buffalo milk, meat and cheese, cow milk, eggs. There are certified organic vegetable producers associations offering 25 different products. They sell in supermarkets, which already have special organic points. Associations of organic producers without certification sell in organic shops. These are still few and operate mainly in the big cities. New marketing initiatives work with the internet, home delivery services, distribution in schools and within friendly programs of consume for example in restaurants of big companies or institutions. Alternative exchange models like trade by bartering, also supported by some NGOs, include organic agriculture products. One example is the project „Trueque y Truequeando por Antioquia“ (Bartering across Antioquia) from the Institute for Antioquia Development and the „Corporación Comunicar“ in Bogotá.




ENOAS Summer Meeting IV: Introduction | Organizers | List of participants | Meeting Plan | Lectures and presentation | Country presentation | Work groups | Excursions / Visits

Organizers; Warsaw Agricultural University (SGGW) | Faculty of Human Nutrition and Consumer Sciences | The Faculty of Agriculture and Biology | Education in organic farming at SGGW | Scientific Association of Agriculture Students - yesterday and today | Scientific Assiociation of Nutrition and Dietetics Students | ENOAS - European Network of Organic Agriculture Students - past, present and future | Avalon Foundation

Organic farming and market in Poland

Country presentations: COLOMBIA - General situation of organic agriculture in Colombia –organic food market in Colombia | HUNGARY - Situation of ecological agriculture in Hungary | ITALY - organic food market | SLOVAKIA – Ecological agriculture | FINLAND - Organic markets in Finland

Reports of visits: BIODYNAMIC FARM, Education Center of R.STEINER Foundation in Prądocin | ROLMIĘS | Bakery SŁODKA | FARM of THE KUJAWSKIS | FARM and MILL of THE BABALSKIS | BIOFOOD

Chosen papers on organic farming: Barriers of conversion into organic production | Barriers of conversion into organic farming | Barriers of conversion into organic farming  | Role of direct sale in organic farming  | Social aspects of organic farming  | Social aspects of organic farming  | Multifunctionality of organic farming in Slovak Republic  | Multifunctionality of organic farming | Multifunctionality of organic farming | Multifunctionality of organic farming  | Multifunctionality of organic farming

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