Semana – Coconut planted by ex-combatants from Tumaco reaches the supermarkets of the Atlantic

Original article appeared in Semana on Wednesday March 16th 2022

Ten tons of the product originated per month from Tumaco to Barranquilla.

March 16, 2022

Segundo Ordóñez is not a common merchant from the municipality of Tumaco, Nariño. He is the legal representative of the Nueva Esperanza del Pacífico Multiactiva (meaning “New Hope of the Pacific”) cooperative, an organization made up of 33 ex-combatant producers, six of whom are women, in the process of reincorporating into social and civil life.

Thanks to Segundo’s efforts, in recent days the cooperative managed to consolidate a new commercial alliance for the formal sale of coconut with AOL (Acceso) Colombia, a renowned fruit and vegetable marketer based in the department of Atlántico.

“This is a good start for us, because we reached a commercial agreement for the sale of ten tons of coconut per month with the company AOL Colombia. It is only the first step and a daily and constant effort will be required to maintain the alliance,” says the ex-combatant after dispatching the first shipment of fresh coconut to Barranquilla.

The agreement was made within the framework of the support provided to Nueva Esperanza by the International Trade Center (ITC) through “Colombia Puede: peace and unity through productive development and trade”, a project financed by the European Union, through the European Fund for Peace.

During the last two years, Colombia Puede has provided Nueva Esperanza with technical and financial support, with the aim of strengthening its technical, financial, communication, socio-business and commercial capacities.

This has been done through training in multiple productive and commercial topics, provision of equipment and tools to ensure the quality of cocoa beans, organizational strengthening through the formation of work committees, as well as the training of a commercial leader and a manager in training within the organization, and the financing of the construction of a satellite collection center for the storage of fresh coconut and a parabolic solar dryer for cocoa.

“These sales will bring great benefits to the members of Nueva Esperanza because, one way or another, we will have better marketing prices in the territory, we will be visible and with the profits we will begin to improve the farms to increase coconut production,” he adds. Second.

AOL Colombia is a commercializer of fruits and vegetables with a social approach of support and joint work with small and medium producers. In 2021, in the midst of searching for new suppliers in the Pacific area, with the guidance of ITC, they identified Nueva Esperanza and were interested in starting a business relationship with this organization.

“We have only been working with Nueva Esperanza for a short time, but we have perceived that it is a serious, responsible cooperative, with a social sense and a desire to improve. They have met the needs of our market with a high-quality product that meets our company’s demands,” adds Diana Leiva, quality coordinator for AOL Colombia.

The ten tons of coconut per month will be sent from Tumaco to the AOL processing center in Barranquilla, where they will go through a peeling process to later be marketed as fresh fruit in supermarket chains in the Caribbean region.

In addition to the Nueva Esperanza cooperative, Colombia Puede supports another 19 organizations of cocoa, coconut and Tahiti acid lime producers, with the aim of improving the quality of life of 2,000 small producers located in the municipalities of Leiva, El Rosario, Policarpa and Tumaco.

Through technical and commercial support, as well as the permanent search for commercial partners, the beneficiary producers of Colombia Puede have formalized agreements in the three production lines. This has allowed the commercialization of 1,773 tons of the aforementioned products, which to date has represented revenues of $4,908 million pesos, according to figures from the International Trade Center.

Likewise, as part of this project, the associations also receive brand design support for their ventures, with the strengthening of skills for negotiation and dialogue with potential clients.

“As the leader of Nueva Esperanza I feel happy, because with the tools that Colombia Puede gives us, we are better organized and strengthened. I will continue to stand by my colleagues so that we do not fall back into the mistakes of the past, which were made due to lack of knowledge or opportunities. It has not been an easy process, but as [we] reincorporate [into society], we will continue betting on peace and productive projects”, concludes Ordóñez.