President Juan Manuel Santos traveled to the central Meta department to oversee the return of over 42,000 acres of land to local people forced to abandon their homes by violence, Colombian media reported Thursday.
The land is due to be given back to families as part of a pilot program for agricultural development in the area.
Speaking in the town of Carimagua, Santos said, “We will allocate [42,000 acres], but at the same time, close to 2,000 families will sign an agreement with major employers that will buy production materials for them and will give them technical assistance which will complement large scale agro>-industrial business with the small farmer.”
Santos made the visit with Minister for Agriculture Juan Camillo Restrepo and the manager of the Colombian Institute for Rural Development (Incoder), Juan Manuel Ospina.
In an interview with El Espectador, Ospina explained that this particular area in the Meta department was chosen as it has a lot of potential in terms of productive capacity.
With regards to the selection of the families for the project, he stated that the process was carried out by working with local authorities in order to identify and locate families displaced by violence. The actual process of relocation will take place through presidential aid agency Social Action, and the Ministry for Social Protection.
Ospina said that he hopes this project will create a template for efficient agricultural production in the region.
Wider land restitution projects are expected in the future as part of the Victims Law which will regulate compensation for families of Colombia’s conflict. A draft of the bill was signed and submitted last week though it is still yet to be made official.