Omar Riapira, plantation worker in Colombia
Colombia has a history of violence due the growing of coca, from which cocaine can be produced. When I arrived in Catatumbo, back in the year 2000, I needed a job to support myself and my family. I ended up in the illicit crop business. The first years were not easy at all. We had an old ranch with daub walls, and when I had to work, I had to take my little children on my shoulder, three or four hours on the road, or on the back of a mule. It was a life of fear, where I constantly had to flee from the public force and often starved.
Fortunately palm oil plantations were planted in the region. Here the oil palm is a ‘peace’ crop. The oil palm was not totally unknown to me, since I had already seen the crops in Villanueva, Casanare, where some of my relatives live. Although I did not have many resources, I was able to enter the project. I bought my plot, organized and began to change my life radically.
Sustainable palm oil in Colombia is committed to economic, environmental and social sustainability. We show that it is possible that palm oil provides a decent living income for the plantation workers, while making sure that there won’t be deforestation.
Back in the days Catatumbo has been known as a zone of violence. Now we have work and a future. I have been able to bring security and tranquility to my family, which makes me happy and thankful.
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