Rural Alternative Schools (ERA) | Anori, Colombia

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The Rural Alternative School of Anorí, Antioquia, supports the reincorporation process in the Territorial Training and Reincorporation Space (ETCR) of La Plancha. It also works to improve the economy in Anorí, a municipality that has been affected by crops of illicit use, mined paths, and a general lack of social investment. The ERA has 27 members from the ex-combatant cooperative COOMULDESNA and two rural farmers from the local community.

Anorí’s biodiversity was isolated by war for decades. With the implementation of the Final Peace Agreement, residents, ex-combatants, and foreigners have come together to safeguard the area. ERA participants have prioritized beekeeping and environmental conservation activities. On a 200-hectares plot of land (almost 70% of which is native forest), participants installed beehives that produce the honey that is commercialized under the brand “Mountain Honey – Will of Peace”.

Bio preservation goes hand-in-hand with apiculture. This apicultural project promotes the protection of the valuable ecosystem of Anorí, one of the greatest Colombian biodiversity hotspots, by establishing a cooperation relationship of ecological services among the flora, pollination, and the protection of the forest to avoid pesticides.

Martin Batalla, legal representative of COOMULDESNA, talks about the beginning of the project, “some people say that stubbornness is a virtue, and in this case it is true. Two former combatants began to talk about apiculture, they took care of the few beehives they had and insisted with daily work. People did not give them much attention, then we realized that it was a sustainable project, but it also was difficult because it was a subject unknown for us”.

PASO provided supplies, raw material, and training to achieve the goal of 65 established beehives. In addition, “as the project grew up, we made a strategy of collecting honey from the rural farmers registered in the National Comprehensive Program for the Substitution of Illicit Crops (PNIS), who had honey but couldn’t sell it. The marketing strategy has been handled by our social media and the current demand is very good, with daily shipments nationwide”, explains Martin.

Thanks to this ongoing cooperation, participants of the ERA, bees, and the Anorí tropical forest conservation, created a sustainable relationship of care and economic opportunities for reincorporation.

PRESS MENTIONS:

The Mountain Honey, a peace contribution
Meet the story of the Mountain Honey – Will of Peace