Rural Alternative Schools (ERA) | Buenos Aires, Colombia

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The Rural Alternative School of Buenos Aires, Cauca, supports ex-combatants of the Ecomún La Esperanza Cooperative (CECOESPE) in the development of their coffee and agro-ecological vocation. They currently produce and sell coffee beans, honey and cotyledons with the assistance of allies such as SENAASCAFÉ, the Cauca Coffee Growers Committee. They are also currently developing fish farming and fruit tree projects.

Through a Collaborative Commercial Partnership with Illy Caffè, coffee produced near the La Elvira Territorial Training and Reincorporation Space (ETCR) and throughout the region is being commercialized. Illy Café has committed to paying a higher-than-market-average price for the coffee and has agreed to a purchase guarantee for the next five years. This agreement has been the source of daily sustenance for families that participate in the Buenos Aires ERA. These families have applied what they have learned at training sessions to improve the existing coffee crops in the region, increasing their quality and productivity. In addition, in order to increase overall coffee production in the region, coffee cotyledons are being grown. Cotyledons are small seedlings grown in nurseries that, when they are ready to be transplanted, are sold to local farmers. They are also used to restock land worked by the ERA.

This ERA is also implementing a beekeeping project with 20 hives. The ERA’s land and the surrounding area are full of eucalyptus trees, secondary and tertiary forests, fruit trees and coffee crops, all of which will be benefited by bee pollination. That is why the beekeeping project – which will sell honey and pollen on a regional level – contributes to maintaining crops and biodiversity.