Validating sustainable production alternatives as a strategy for reducing deforestation in the Caquetá department, Colombia, coupled with information generated about systems sustainability, served as a pilot platform to simulate application and uptake of a new agro-environmental financing incentive, as part of the Visión Amazonía program led by the Colombian Ministry of the Environment and Sustainable Development (MADS)

Peru and Colombia, countries harboring 23 per cent of the Amazon rainforest, are aware of the importance of this region as a provider of ecosystem services at the local, national, and global level. Conserving and sustainably harnessing the benefits that the Amazon ecosystem provides requires the design of sustainable alternatives for land use and management, to reduce pressure on forests and serve as a strategy for climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Over the last four years, the Sustainable Amazonian Landscapes (SAL) project, led by CIAT with support from the CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems (WLE), aimed to provide farmers with sustainable production strategies that would enable them to enhance their capacity for climate change mitigation and adaptation while improving environmental services and socio-economic benefits. Those sustainable production alternatives were co-designed and jointly implemented with a network of 42 farmers in a total area of 262 hectares in Colombia and Peru. Within an ecological “exchange-like” scenario, farmers committed to conserving, protecting, and restoring forests and water sources on their farms.

Validating those sustainable production alternatives as a strategy for reducing deforestation in the Caquetá department, Colombia, coupled with information generated about systems sustainability, made possible for the project’s network of beneficiary farms to be selected by FINAGRO (Agricultural Sector Financing Fund) as a pilot platform to simulate application and uptake of a new agro-environmental financing incentive, as part of the Visión Amazonía program, led by the Colombian Ministry of the Environment and Sustainable Development (MADS). The incentive, called Instrument for Sustainable Productive Transformation (ITPS, its Spanish acronym), targets smallholder farmers with the aim of fostering conservation of remnant forests and restoration of deforested areas while boosting cattle rearing on less fragile and more productive areas.

The agro-environmental financing incentive includes benefits such as a low interest rate (56 per cent lower than an ordinary credit), access to the Agricultural Guarantee Fund (FAG) and payment flexibility, including an incentive for releasing pastureland for restoration, for as much as 25 percent of the credit value. After the simulation exercise with farmers, FINAGRO selected a first group of beneficiaries with 14 participating farmers of the SAL project in this first pilot.

Since access to technical assistance is one of the bottlenecks to implementing silvopastoral systems, the protocols developed by the SAL project for the co-design and implementation of silvopastoral systems in Caquetá were shared by FINAGRO as an input for designing management and technical assistance plans for the farmers who will benefit from this incentive.

The initiative aims to leverage a national-level strategy intended to gradually reconvert pastureland of low livestock productivity in areas of high ecosystem value to sustainable forest landscapes with efficient productive systems.

“Piloting the ITPS with smallholder farmers in the departments of Caquetá and Guaviare is a first step to adapting it to medium- and large-scale farmers in the future, thus originating a scale-out effect across the national territory through a National Sustainable Livestock Policy. The experience of working with our partner, the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), was highly rewarding for their full commitment at technical and professional level, and the possibility to verify the real conditions on the ground with the SAL project beneficiary farmers, which allowed us to achieve a wider reach with the pilot of the instrument.”

Laura Patricia Diaz Tovar

Senior Analyst – Directorate of Unions and Organizations, FINAGRO

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