The government of Colombia announced on Thursday () that it has reached an agreement with the country’s cattle ranchers federation (Fedegan) to buy 3 million hectares of rural producers’ properties to be used in the agrarian reform project launched in September.
The announcement was made by the Minister of Agriculture, Cecilia López, together with the entity’s manager, José Félix Lafaurie, in Bogotá.
The Colombian government has already launched its proposal for agrarian reform with the delivery of land titles for 681.372 hectares, in total, to rural workers, indigenous peoples and people of African descent.
Until 15 in November, titles will be delivered to 32 , 6 thousand families in 19 of the 32 departments (states) of the country, within the first phase of the reform project.
The second phase involves the lease, to peasant organizations, of 125 thousand hectares of land confiscated from drug traffickers s, a measure that will be taken once legal procedures are concluded with the Sociedade de Bens Especiais (SAE), which manages assets subject to expropriation due to their illegal origin.
The third step is that includes the announcement made today. The country’s president, Gustavo Petro, assured that he intends to buy 5 million hectares of land at a commercial price from its current owners and then resell it at lower prices to peasants or small and medium-sized entrepreneurs.
Lafaurie stated that the dialogue and consultation allowed rapid progress to reach “a major agreement that will bring peace of mind to the rural sector”.
He also considered that this will allow “the rural sector to consolidate a middle class capable of responding to the challenges of a country that must necessarily be an agri-food power for the world.”
Historically, the dispute and lack of land for peasants is one of the causes of armed conflict. of Colombia, and this tension has intensified in recent weeks due to the increase in land invasions in different regions of the country.
In some areas of northern Colombia, such as the department of Magdalena, rural producers have started to organize themselves to prevent their lands to be occupied, a movement that has been criticized by other sectors who recall that similar self-protection groups against guerrillas gave rise to the feared paramilitary groups decades ago.
Colombia is one of the most unequal countries in the world. world in terms of land distribution. It is estimated that up to 10 million hectares were acquired fraudulently or with the use of violence by various illegal groups.