Association for the Wholistic Development of Rural Communities (ASOPRICOR)
ASOPRICOR, a not-for-profit organization, was founded in 1978 in the city of Tocaima and the outlying areas in Columbia. From its beginnings, this association has developed strategies to help poor marginalized farmers to improve their situation; especially this has been accomplished by adopting a strategy for self-sufficiency and economic diversification.
Hence, they steered away from single crop agriculture such as bananas and coffee beans destined to export markets. By diversifying their production, they are capable of producing a variety of fruits and vegetables allowing greater self-sufficiency and increase in revenues by targeting rather a national market, especially that of the capital, Bogota which is close-by.
This approach equally allows for sustainable agriculture, an agriculture which depends less on commercial fertilizer and pesticides. Also, the peasants are better situated to control the production cycle, going from the crop itself to the sale of produce in the local and regional market.
This approach which goes against the dominant neo-liberal model met with a great deal of resistance on the part of government departments and big financial groups which advocate a model built on exports. It is through the solidarity of the peasants themselves, accompanied by the solidarity of other organizations in Columbia and elsewhere, that the ASOPRICOR approach consolidated itself in Columbia.
However, this is not accomplished without grave difficulties. Thus in 1997, fourteen peasants were assassinated by a paramilitary group. One of the historical founders of ASOPRICOR, Agustin Reyes, has lived many years underground in order not to be assassinated and he is presently in exile in Canada. The violent situation in Columbia has led the association to develop important work to promote peace.
Nevertheless, ASOPRICOR pursues unwearyingly its mission to promote the wholistic development of rural communities and create an organization of people, families and communities who live according to the values and principles of solidarity, equality, respect, justice and fraternity.
Agustin Reyes, who was invited to the Conference of the Canadian Network for Community Economic Development (CNCED) held last May, is an ardent defender of international solidarity development and its actors.
From exchanges with Agustín Reyes
The article is available on the blog: International Newsletter on Sustainable Local Development