Land Reform and Food Security Key to Peace in Colombia: FAO

Land Reform and Food Security Key to Peace in Colombia: FAO

FARC members passing time, waiting for the peace negociations in a camp in Colombia. | Photo: Reuters

“A population where food security is not assured has no possibilities for peace,” a Colombian government official said at the FAO.

Peace in Colombia depends on the ability for the government to progress with land reform and rural development initiatives, the Food and Agriculture Organization, FAO, of the United Nations said this week in Rome.

“Land was the origin of the armed conflict and land will provide most of the solutions,” FAO’s Colombia representative, Rafael Zavala said.

The FAO is working closely with various government and civil organizations, providing policy advice in the creation of a national land registry, a rural development agency, and a territorial renovation agency.

“The most important lesson of the Colombian peace agreement is that it goes far beyond the traditional themes of peace deals, such as demobilization, disarmament and reintegration. It’s a comprehensive agreement that aims to transform and improve rural life and livelihoods,” Colombia’s Minister of Post-Conflict, Human Rights and Security Rafael Pardo said while speaking at the FAO.

“A population where food security is not assured has no possibilities for peace,” he continued.

The FAO assisted land registry will track land use and tenure in the country, and the Colombian government hopes to use the registry to push for a resurgence in agriculture in the country where only one-fourth of arable land is currently productive. The government is also looking to use the registry to discourage coca growing through the promotion of incentives to farmers.

Jose Graziano da Silva, the director-general of the FAO, praised Colombia as an example of successful multi-faceted peace operations that can “fill the entire world with hope and knowledge.”

“The only road to peace is the path of dialogue, negotiation, cooperation, inclusion and equity, which is also the road to sustainable development where nobody is left behind. Everybody hopes that what is happening in Colombia can be a model elsewhere,” he said Tuesday.

The largest leftist guerrilla army in Colombia, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, handed in the last of their weapons to the United Nations last month in June, marking a major milestone in their transition to being an electoral political party after 53 years of armed revolutionary conflict against the government.

The government is implementing over 80 laws and 1,000 programs to enact the peace deal, including rural development projects, job training, and amnesty for former FARC members.

In spite of efforts and commitment from government and FARC leaders, the process has not been seamless. Murders of activists have been on the rise as right-wing paramilitaries continue to be a strong presence in the country, and some policies have been slow to implement on the government’s part, leading to concern at various points from FARC leadership that the full promises of the peace deal would not be actualized in time.

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