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Agriculture in Colombia

Agriculture in Colombia refers to all agricultural activities, essential to food, feed, and fiber production, including all techniques for raising and processing livestock within the Republic of Colombia. Plant cultivation and livestock production have continuously abandoned subsistence agricultural practices in favour of technological farming resulting in cash crops which contribute to the Economy of Colombia. The Colombian agricultural production has significant gaps in domestic and / or international human and animal sustenance needs.

The primary agricultural products of Colombia are coffee (second-largest producer of coffee in the world), cut flowers, bananas, rice, tobacco, corn, sugarcane, cocoa beans, oilseed, vegetables, fique, panela, forest products; and shrimp. In Colombia the agricultural politics and policies are determined by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The population of Colombia resulted from a blend of indigenous

population, Europeans and African slaves during the colonial times, Colombia currently suffers from

the longest internal social conflict of any country on Earth, which has marked the history of

the country since its independence from Spain in 1810. The process of industrialization arrived relatively late in comparison to other South American nations adding the recurrent social conflict and political struggle that involves the countryside and affects its agricultural production.

History of agriculture in Colombia

Pre-Columbian agriculture

Indigenous peoples in Colombia were the first to process plants and animals to produce food. The indigenous peoples had developed techniques to plant numerous plants for their feeding and to produce houses and ornaments. Predominantly the indigenous people cultivated maize and managed the Colombian climate and geography to develop planting technique using terraces. Many other plants were first cultivated in Colombia such as tomatoes, avocados, guavas, chilli peppers, manioc and prickly pear were all cultivated as additional food resources, while rubber trees and cotton plants were useful for making cultural products like latex balls and clothing.

The indigenous peoples also were avid hunters and consumed processed local fauna, predominantly deers, rabbits, snails, fishes and birds. The indigenous also cultivated grass to use as roofs for their houses, and fique fiber to saw their clothing and artifacts. They also cultivated coca and marijuana for ceremonial purposes and local fruits and vegetables like yuca and potato for their diet.

Spanish conquest and colonization

With the arrival of the Spaniards most of the indigenous peoples plantations were used for the consumption of the Spaniards. The Spaniards then turned to violence, domination and submission of the indigenous peoples, forcing most of them into slavery based in systems like the encomiendas. The indigenous peoples were also forced to work under the Mita in the 16th Century by the Spaniards and many illnesses brought by the Spaniards combined with the forced workload eliminated or greatly diminished the indigenous population in most of the country. The Spanish introduced a variety of European animal and plant species in Colombia intended for the production and later commercialization back to Spain, as the Spanish monarchy had adopted a mercantilist style of commerce. The Spaniards brought new livestock such as horses, cattle, goats, birds, most of these intended for the human consumption and for commerce. It also introduce agricultural plants such as cotton, coffee, sugar cane, tobacco, tea, sorghum, wheat, with the same purpose of supplying Spain solely.

During the Early 17th Century the Meztizaje (mixing of races) forced the Spaniards to adopt a prohibition of forced labor for indigenous peoples created new forms of contracting workers. The land acquired more importance as the Spaniards realized the productivity and commercial advantage of these and they also introduced private property, to own and commercialize land. During the 17th, 18th and 19th Centuries the Spaniards changed to latifundios (haciendas like Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino) and minifundios.

The latifundios were great extensions of land owned by a single or very few owners and workers lived in the hacienda solely for the production of food, while the minifundios were small pieces of land owned by peasants mestizos which overused it and unfertilized these. The indigenous population was forced out from the rural areas and into the urban villages.


After the independence the criollos in Colombia received the support of the United States and other countries to begin trading as a free nation with other countries under the principles of liberal capitalism, the nation however, struggled socially and politically engulfing in numerous civil wars through out the 19th Century, leaving the countryside and the agricultural production at the same level the Spanish colonial rule had left it.

See also

Economics of coffee

Environmental issues in Colombia

Colombian coffee

External links

Colombian Ministry of Agriculture

Country studies - Colombia

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Agriculture in Colombia

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