Colombia Sur De Bolivar

Colombia Sur De Bolivar

By: Evan Stockdale

Santa Rosa del Sur in the beautiful mountainous region of Sur de Bolivar is a remote city of 42,000 inhabitants formed in 1940 by citizens fleeing political turmoil in nearby Santander and Boyoca departments. Due to its isolation and lack of government support, the area has a long history of illegal mining and growing illicit crops such as coca. It has also been a major center of recruitment for the FARC and other Colombian paramilitary groups.

 Coffee producers in the region have long been cut off from the export market and historically received low prices for their coffee. In the last few years, there has been an effort by the government and international NGOs to promote legal crops and put a stop to illegal mining operations. The government also cemented a peace accord with the FARC in 2016 and the region’s 1,200 producers are now finding new markets for their coffee along with better prices.

Getting to Santa Rosa del Sur is no easy task. Because it’s cut off from the road network, it can only be reached after a meandering boat ride up the Magdalena river followed by a long and circuitous drive. From Santa Rosa del Sur, it’s another 2-hour drive to Serrania de San Lucas located to the West in the heart of the Cordillera Central mountain range, where coffee trees can be found starting at 1,600 masl.

It’s here that Boot Coffee has started a project with funding from USAID to promote specialty coffee in Sur de Bolivar. By implementing good post-harvest practices through q-processing based training, producers have been able to dramatically increase quality. Through their “Micro-processors Certificate” program, Boot Coffee has trained over 150 producers in the region and are moving into phase two which will extend their training considerably.

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