Farmfolio’s Ganaderia Pietrasanta (GP) has Colombia’s only certified nursery for breeding and growing organic Malayan dwarf coconut palm trees. This major step in developing a niche agricultural sector in Colombia also represents a unique opportunity for the community where GP is located. The Colombian department of Cordoba, home to Farmfolio’s GP farm, has a long history of agricultural development focused on cattle.
Diverse Agricultural Activities Provide Year-Round Work
Due to weather patterns, operations in the region are very intensive during the rainy season, when grass pastures grow quickly and cattle turnover is quick. Meanwhile, farm operations are slow during the non-rainy season, when grass grows slowly and cattle gains weight at a slower pace. This means that the economic market in the Cordoba department requires a substantial amount of labor during half of the year, which employs most of the region’s adult males. However, during the six-month-long non-rainy season, the region suffers from chronic unemployment amongst its adult population, which leads to socioeconomic hardships.
By introducing crops that are cultivated year-round and building additional water reservoirs on the farm, Farmfolio maintains a steady workforce throughout the year. Simultaneously, GP provides a larger degree of economic stability to its employees and the surrounding communities. By facilitating this positive economic dynamic year-round, Farmfolio’s activities allow heads of household, who would otherwise have to leave in search for work, to stay in the community. Likewise, GP’s activities help the families of employees throughout the region send their children to school in a more consistent manner.
As Farmfolio’s trendsetting and innovative way of practice agroforestry by incorporating teak and coconut alongside cattle begins to bear fruit, the region is taking note. Within a couple of months, GP’s green coconut nursery expects to be certified as a nationally denominated provider and other farms could purchase seeds from it. This would facilitate economies of scale for the inauguration of a regional processing facility for green coconuts led by Farmfolio, which would secure a steady supply from neighboring farms through futures contracts. This next agricultural revolution would not only benefit the region’s economy and biodiversity, but most importantly its communities because coconut cultivation would provide steady and year-round employment to populations that are at risk and in need.
Currently, Colombia’s population has an average age of 30 years and unemployment is above 9.0%. Furthermore, the country has a GDP per capita (in terms of Purchasing Power Parity, PPP) of almost US$15.000 and merely 17% of the national labor force is employed by the agriculture industry. Lastly, throughout the last several decades, aggregate coconut production in Colombia has increased from 27.000 metric tons in 1961 to approximately 130.000 metric tons 2016.