The armed conflict in Colombia has been closely related to rural poverty. The areas most affected by the conflict also tend to be weaker socially and economically, with greater social vulnerability and less presence of the State. This scenario for the design of a new public policy on reincorporation has as its main element the strengthening of the ex-combatant community so that they have sustainable life projects. It is therefore within this framework that the Basque Government, in collaboration with other international actors such as the European Union or the Colombian Government, supports and promotes the implementation of a pilot territorial development initiative.
As pointed out by authors such as Bessière, Poulain and Tibère, the valorization of local food heritages has a driving economic role for agricultural production territories, proposing new development paths and building new forms of territorial attraction. The enhancement of products (designations of origin, geographical indications, etc.), food crafts, recipes and local cuisines provide territories with socially constructed - and often consensual - singularities that abound in their uniqueness and that, at the same time, are socioeconomically activating (and tourism is not a minor player in this respect) and can contribute to social cohesion and reinforce identities. The empowerment of groups of people, communities or societies that are usually disadvantaged or depressed even coincides with the economic objectives of current discourses linked to the sustainability of productive models.
Empowerment and sustainability, in this scheme, are seen by political representation as a means of economic access. Gastronomy is therefore not just about eating. It comprises pedagogical, cultural and sociological components of a geography apart from its sensory proposals. The Food Value Chain, from primary production to final consumption, contributes in a remarkable way to the generation of employment, economic growth and the development of an economy based on knowledge, respect for roots and sustainability. Without ignoring the human component of people in the process of reintegration into social life, the conjunction of traditional sectors with new converging technologies must be addressed through collaborative strategies along the entire value chain. In order to be able to develop a good prospection work in the territory and integrate important aspects of the food system in possible dynamics of socio-economic activation, it was important to collect information on the main elements of the food value chain and its possible synergy with gastronomic tourism. In this regard, ALC, together with the members of the Veredal Nucleus, developed a working document through which information was gathered on the food system, markets - fairs, agricultural zone and agro-system of the Veredal Nucleus for the generation of prototypes.
As a result of the co-creation phases, the social mapping activities and the mapping of initiatives that were carried out in the rural nucleus of Agua Bonita (Agua Bonita I, Agua Bonita II, Juntas, Morros, Cedro and Cedritos), where the productive initiatives identified by the project in the initial mapping phase were located geographically and spatially, the sociodemographic elements, productive orientation, challenges and opportunities that were collectively established could be specified. Based on these elements identified as a result of the exercises of understanding and reflection on the territory, a process of collective construction of the areas and productive lines of the prototypes was established. Collectively, 3 areas were defined (peace, food and productive projects and tourism) under five productive lines that cover the prototypes: Good livestock practices, Food production, Minor species, Organizational strengthening and Tourism.
Imago, once the basic analysis of the food value chain and the incipient tourism activity had been developed, took the initiative, together with ALC, to create sketches of a first portfolio of prototypes. The objective of this exercise was to inspire the Aguabonita community itself through the Cooperative in order to stimulate co-creation workshops. From these exchanges should emerge the definitive projects, inspired by the needs of the village.
Imago's field visit in June 2022 helped to confirm the potential of outlining this first portfolio of 50 interrelated prototypes involving the inhabitants of the village nucleus gathered in the cooperative with other actors in the area. The livestock enterprises led by farmers in the area, together with new farms led by the signatories, including the production of cosmetics and aromas, a fruit pulping and processing plant, a sugar mill, a fish farm, a community-based rural tourism operation or country inns, make up a rich context for the proliferation of new economic activities. As a result of the iteration exercises in the construction of this portfolio of prototypes, we are working on a revolving fund through which to finance the projects selected for development in the villages.