colombiaColombia is a South American, Spanish-speaking country. It is bordered by the Caribbean Sea in the north and by the Pacific Ocean in the west.  The population is 47.7 million, and the name of its capital is Bogota, located at an altitude of 2,591 meters. Administratively, Colombia is divided into 33 departments, including the capital district. The departments are sub-divided into municipalities, which are further sub-divided into corregimientos. The administrative structure is decentralized, with each department having an elected local government, headed by a governor. Colombia, a rich country in natural resources, hosts the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT).




Colombia, a country with mountainous terrain in general, has three climatic zones according to their altitudes: the areas below 900 meters constitute “hot land”, which is about 86 per cent of the total land area; the areas between 900 and 1,980 meters compose “temperate land”, which is not only the most productive and most populated area but also the best environment for coffee production; and the areas above 1,980 and 3,500 meters comprise “cold land”, considered as the most suitable land for wheat and potatoes cultivation.

The agricultural sector is an important pillar of Colombia’s economy. The land ownership pattern is highly skewed, with about 68 per cent of the farmland being held by about 4.3 per cent of landowners, while about 62 per cent of the farms being too small to provide a decent livelihood. While irrigated area is not that large, the rainfall is usually adequate. The geographic diversity allows the production of coffee, banana, rice, potato, sugarcane, cassava, oilseed, cotton, cocoa beans and tobacco. Coffee and banana are main agricultural exports. Cattle-raising is an important activity especially for subsistence farmers. Colombia has a serious problem of illicit farming of coca, opium poppies, and cannabis, which are used in preparing drugs.

Key Statistics and Indicators




Agricultural land (sq. km)

Agricultural land (% of land area)

Arable land (hectares)

Arable land (% of land area)

Arable land (hectares per person)











Fertilizer consumption (kg per hectare of arable land)



Agriculture, value added (% of GDP)

Food production index (2004-2006 = 100)

Food exports (% of merchandise exports)

Food imports (% of merchandise imports)









GNI per capita, Atlas method (current US$)



Literacy rate, adult total (% of people ages 15 and above)

Literacy rate, youth female (% of females ages 15-24)

Literacy rate, youth male (% of males ages 15-24)

Ratio of young literate females to males (% ages 15-24)

Ratio of female to male secondary enrollment (%)











Mobile cellular subscriptions (per 100 people)

Internet users (per 100 people)





Population, total

Population density (people per sq. km of land area)

Rural population

Rural population (% of total population)

Agricultural population (% of total population)*

Total economically active population

Total economically active population in agriculture*

Total economically active population in agriculture (in %

    of total economically active population)

Female economically active population in agriculture (% of

     total economically active population in agriculture)*



















Sources: The World Bank, *Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations FAO 



History of extension and the enabling environment

Early 1900s

The earliest and lasting agricultural academic institution in Colombia, the School of Tropical Agriculture and Veterinary Science, was established in 1911, and the Higher School of Agriculture was started in 1916. Interestingly, the history of agricultural extension does not stem from any government initiative, but from a non-public organization, National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia (La Federación Nacional de Cafeteros de Colombia), which was created in 1927 and funded by farmers. The federation, although led by certain elite families, launched several programs aimed at socio-economic benefits to small coffee growers. In addition, the federation has created several distinct institutions, such as the National Coffee Research Center (Genicafe), established in 1938.

From 1950s-1960s

In 1951, with the assistance of the Rockefeller Foundation, the Ministry of Agriculture established the National Agricultural Research Center (Tibaitata) in Mosqera. The government’s role in extension did not start until 1952 when a Colombia-American Technical Agricultural Service (STACA) was established. In the mid-1950s, the Ministry of Agriculture ran an extension program with the assistance of the United States International Cooperation Administration (now called USAID), which mainly concentrated on having the personnel of the Ministry trained through their engagement in field extension tasks. 

In 1959, Colombian banks initiated an agricultural credit program, which due to an agrarian reform of 1961, became the part of a new package comprising technical assistance, agricultural credit and produce marketing. The Colombia Agricultural Institute (ICA) was established in 1962 to undertake research, training, technology transfer and technical assistance activities. In the mid-1960s, building on the remnants of the Ministry’s extension program of the 1950’s, the ICA launched a nationwide extension service linked to the National Agricultural Research Center and the National University of Colombia, following the United States land-grant college pattern.  ICT’s target was to have 42 district offices with about 250 field technicians operating by the end of 1968.

In 1968, three dominant technical assistance (extension) organizations operated in Colombia: semi-autonomous National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia; semi-autonomous National Agrarian Reform Institute (INCORA); and, national government-supported Community Action Boards (Accion Comunal). In addition, the country had several commodity assistance agencies such as for cotton, tobacco, rice, barley, cocoa and livestock, and a number of regional assistance agencies located in Bogota Plateau, Cauca Valley and Magdalena Valley.

During the 1970s

During the 1970s, when the Ministry of Agriculture was pursuing the socio-economic welfare of small producers, the Colombia Institute for Agrarian Reform (INCORA) was created. The government implemented five donor-funded rural development projects concentrating on decentralized technical assistance, one each in Eastern Antioquia, Caqueza, Santander, Narino, and Northern Cauca. The projects involved situational diagnosis, research, extension, and institutional coordination. In 1973, the Agricultural Financing Fund (FFA - Fondo Financiero Agropecuario) was established, which operated in collaboration with ICA. FFA extended credit to producers residing in newly created DRI zones (Fondo Desarrollo Rural Integral) with the condition that an amount which did not exceed 2 per cent of the credit was to be paid by the beneficiary exclusively for the purpose of technical assistance. During this period, in addition to already active ICA and INCORA, institutions such as INDERENA (Instituto Nacional de Recursos Naturales) covering forestry, fisheries and soil conservation, and SENA (Servicio Nacional de Aprendizaje), covering agricultural extension, marketing, communication, and methodologies also participated in development projects. Some regional development corporations like Corpouraba and CVC (Corporacion Autonoma Regional del Valle del Cauca) also provided technical assistance under donor-funded programs.  

During the 1980s

Starting 1980, ICA followed a comprehensive technical assistance approach, based on communication between researchers having scientific knowledge and producers with production experience. In the late 1980’s, the ICA created 66 regional centers for training, extension, and technology transfer (CRECEDs) as a direct response to two national decentralization laws that came into effect in 1986/87. The National Research Center (CENIs – Centros Nacionales de Investigación) also took active part in research and technology transfer. Trade associations and financial institutions provided technical assistance to medium and large producers while the government provided subsidized or free technical assistance to the small producers.

In 1987, the ICA approach involving centralized control and provincial management for 20 years, came to an end when decentralized organizational structures called Municipal Units for Agricultural Technical assistance (UMATA – Unidad Municipal de Asistencia Tecnica Agro Pecuaria) were created. The new development put the responsibility of extension services in the hands of municipalities which were mandated to provide free technical assistance to small farmers (having less than one “family agricultural unit”), and cost-based extension services to medium and large producers. Both ICA and INCORA were directed to provide necessary backstopping to the municipalities in carrying out the technical assistance responsibility. Required funds for the Units were provided by the national government through the DRI.

In 1989, the National System for Agricultural Technology Transfer (SINTAP) was launched to promote the adoption of location-specific technologies, and support the municipalities in the delivery of technical assistance services. A special technology transfer fund, called PRONATTA (Programa Nacional de Transferencia de Tecnologia Agropecuaria), was created for SINTAP for financing suitable regional projects. The SINTAP-PRONATTA-UMATA arrangement was coordinated at the national level by the Ministry of Agriculture and at regional level by the Departmental Secretaries of Agriculture. This arrangement ended in 2003 with the completion of the last phase of PRONATTA, as well as the elimination of SINTAP support. Starting 1989, for a few years, Caja Agraria provided technical assistance to those small producers who were given credit. This particular approach termed “objective based extension” was on the lines of the Training and Visit (T&V) system of extension promoted by the World Bank.

During the 1990s

In 1990, a National System for Agricultural Credit was created. Under this, FINAGRO (Fondo para el Financiamiento del Sector Agropecuario) was set up for the purpose of financing agricultural development activities through banks’ promotion credit lines, and to continue the fund for technical assistance to small producers. Thus technical assistance to the producers, overseen by the ICA, was maintained through funding from FINAGRO. The same year (1990), ICA established 65 Regional Centers for Training, Extension, and Dissemination of Technology (CRECED), which were responsible for identifying regional problems and developing knowledge programs with small producers in the areas of agriculture, fisheries and production systems. Starting 1991, sectoral commissions on technical assistance were coordinated by the Departmental Secretaries of Agriculture.

An agrarian reform in 1993 ratified the delivery of technical assistance to small producers through decentralized participatory processes. The creation of UMATAs became mandatory for all the municipalities.  Municipal Councils on Rural Development (CMDR) were created as were the Municipal Commissions for Technical Assistance to guide and oversee the operations of UMATAs. Special funds were set aside to seek resources for technology development and to strengthen the role of trade associations like Fedecacao, Fedearroz, Fedepanela, Fedepapa, etc. in providing technical assistance. While ICA was re-structured in 1993 for focusing on vegetables and animal health, another institution, CORPOICA (Corporacion Colombiana de Investigación Agro Pecuaria), was created for performing dual functions of research and technology transfer. Around the same period, CORPOICA and FEDEPAPA implemented the Farmer Field School methodology (ECA) as a model of participatory rural extension. 

In 1994, a National System for Agrarian Reform and Rural Peasant Development was enforced, which comprised a sub-system of research, technical assistance, and technology transfer and crop diversification. The new system was coordinated by CORPOICA and implemented by ICA, UMATAs, and private entities recognized by the government. The same year (1994), the Ministry of Agriculture that was created in 1948, was renamed as Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

In 1995, CORPOICA followed participatory agricultural research approach (IAP) through Local Agricultural Research Committees (CIAL) that enabled rural communities to influence not only research, but extension agenda as well. By 1999, as many as 40 CIALs were covering 35 municipalities.

From 2000 till present

In 2000, a new legislation modified the operations of UMATAs, and introduced Direct Rural Technical Assistance (ATDR) approach, under which technical assistance was made inter-disciplinary, and interventions were to be made on a broad scale. This effectively brought the SINTAP-PRONATTA-UMATA arrangement to an end. In retrospect, the program suffered from a number of weaknesses such as political interference, poor organization of farmers, inability of farmers to formulate their demands, inadequate support from UMATAs, low adoption of technologies due to poor presentation in terms of their social importance, and a lack of need-based research.

The ATDR had to be consistent with the National System of Agricultural Science and Technology, and was conceived as a sub-system of public and private entities seeking to identify technologies to be developed. The service had to be free of cost for small producers, and its guidelines had to be drawn from the Municipal Development Plans prepared by the Municipal Councils on Rural Development (CMDRs). The municipalities were to guarantee the service delivery through UMATAs or by contracting only those service providers, which had inter-disciplinary teams. CORPOICA and SENA were to be in-charge of articulating the ATDR with technology validation and adjustment. Monitoring of the ATDR was to be done by the Departmental Secretaries of Agriculture, and necessary funds were to come from national and departmental sources. Municipal funds were to be created for ATDR, and were to be administered by the mayor’s offices. A General Plan for Direct Rural Technical Assistance was introduced for organizing ATDR activities. The Municipal Commission on Technical Assistance was to determine the zones and productive systems to be addressed and ensure effective service delivery, adhering to CMDR approaches. The ATDR was a condition for competitiveness within the context of regional development.

In 2004, a new legislation and directive led to the creation of Provincial Centers of Agri-business Management (CPGA - Centros Provinciales de Gestion Agroempresarial). The functioning of the newly created CPGAs is coordinated by the Departmental Secretaries of Agriculture keeping in view the results of regional planning, competitiveness of production chains, and adherence to the consolidation done by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. The responsibility of the municipalities as ATDR planners and organizers is restricted to their participation in the CPGAs. The ATDR provider companies offer services, and in order to benefit from the ATDR, users link with the service providers that have potential to satisfy their needs. Free service to the small producers is provided by agricultural universities’ students through compulsory internships in their final semester. These practices are coordinated and certified by the CPGAs, ensuring training to be provided by the ATDR providers. In addition, the CPGAs support the formulation of agricultural businesses through business management schemes.

Each CPGA has to formulate individual General Plan for Direct Rural Technical Assistance (PGAT) per production system. The municipalities, which are not associated with any CPGA, have to formulate their own PGATs for review by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. The PGATs must be based on the demands from farmers and the businessmen, and should be in line with the departmental and municipal plans.

As part of the Agro Ingreso Seguro (Agriculture Sure Income) program, created in 2007, the approach per demand is introduced through the Incentive to Productivity to Strengthen Technical Assistance (IAT). It is a subsidy for the demand-based technical assistance meeting up to 80 per cent of the cost. According to IAT guidelines of 2010, this incentive covers only that technical assistance which is provided by a certified service provider (entity). Similarly, at INCODER, a Technological Modernization Fund has been created for the rural sector to grant technical assistance subsidies through public announcement to small producers and indigenous communities. The ATDR service providers are required to serve producers in several aspects of production such as food quality; soil suitability; potential exploitation planning; application of technologies; procedures to access credit; outfitting of productive infrastructure; marketing; business training; animal and vegetable health; transformation processes; business organization; and management of needs for social services in support of rural development.

Under the present decentralized system, the old role of the government in providing technical assistance (extension services) to the producers has been replaced by a location-specific, demand-based approach under which all categories of producers seek and compete to gain government incentives meant for technical assistance. Services are provided by a number of non-public service providers. Some of the problems noticed during the implementation of the new system are unhealthy competition between small producers and powerful groups for the incentives, disparity between municipality interests and CPGAs’ objectives, and distortion in the service delivery caused by a lack of resources and unforeseen market demands.

External assistance

Quite a number of multi-lateral and bi-lateral development agencies have provided financial and technical assistance to Colombia aimed at strengthening various aspects of its agricultural sector. Starting the early 1970s, several World Bank-financed projects have been implemented such as Agricultural Credit Project, Integrated Rural Development Project, Agricultural Research and Extension Project, Agricultural Technology Development Project, and Agricultural Transition Project; currently, an active project is Mainstreaming Sustainable Cattle Ranching. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) currently has three Colombia-specific active projects and six regional projects that cover Colombia among many other countries.  The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) signed a US$69 million “Trust and Opportunity Project” in 2012, with the main objective of building peace and enhancing social inclusion of 50,000 poor rural families. New Zealand and Colombia have signed an agreement in March 2013 under which New Zealand will fund the training of agricultural workers as part of a process to start trade between the two countries. New Zealand will invest 3.4 million US dollars over four years in a joint project to support the agricultural sector through training and the sharing of technical expertise.


title=Extension Providers


Major institutions providing extension and advisory services

Public Institutions

Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (Ministerio de Agricultura y Desarrollo Rural)

Colombia follows a pluralistic and decentralized system of agricultural extension, involving a number of public, private and civil society service providers. Funding in the form of subsidies/co-financing (up to 80 per cent of the total cost) for direct technical assistance (extension) for the producers comes from the government coffers. As such, although Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development does not directly provide extension services, yet it becomes an important institution for extension purposes. In 2012, in line with the prevailing decentralized governance laws, the Ministry financed the General Plan for Direct Rural Technical Assistance (PGAT) that was presented by 334 Municipal Units for Technical Assistance (UMATAs - Unidad Municipal de Asistencia Tecnica Agro Pecuaria) and 22 Provincial Centers of Agri-business Management (CPGAs - Centros Provinciales de Gestion Agroempresarial). While the responsibility for providing technical assistance to the producers, lies with decentralized provincial and municipal governing bodies, the Ministry’s roles in extension are more of a national level funds provider and facilitator besides policy matters.

Provincial Centers of Agri-business Management (CPGA - Centros Provinciales de Gestion Agroempresarial)

CPGAs, which were created to gradually replace all UMATAs are provincial level public associations or corporations covering a number of municipalities that are responsible for providing direct rural technical assistance to small and medium producers. They are not only points of contact between the sub-region, the department and the national government, but also link various stakeholders such as producers, banks, investors, NGOs, regional autonomous corporations and other institutions like the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Colombia Institute for Rural Development (INCODER), the Colombia Corporation for Agricultural Research (CORPOICA), the National Learning Service (SENA) and the Colombia Agricultural Institute (ICA). Production chain users interested in receiving technical assistance services must be registered in the Registry of Users, and must prepare PGAT (General Plan for Direct Rural Technical Assistance).

In 2012, there were 159 CPGAs with a total number of 271,764 registered beneficiaries. According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, although the Registry of Users currently includes only small and medium producers, the plan is to add other users of the productive chain such as large producers and marketers. Just like the Registry of Users, the CPGAs also maintain Registry of Technical Assistance Providers (EPSAGROS), which includes public and private organizations, NGOs, and farmers-based organizations along with detailed particulars of each assistance provider by department and CPGA. 

Municipal Units for Agricultural Technical Assistance (UMATA – Unidad Municipal de Asistencia Tecnica Agropecuaria)

UMATAs, which were created in 1987 in line with the decentralization move, are gradually being dismantled to avoid duplication and redundancy with CPGAs’ functions. Since their establishment, the UMATAs have been providing direct extension services, and also through relevant projects and programs, to small and medium rural producers. Extension services are provided by UMATA professional staff, contracted individuals, legal bodies, and through inter-institutional agreements with different service providers such as public and private organizations, universities, and international donors.  According to a PowerPoint presentation in 2011, the number of UMATAs in Colombia was 700, covering 300,000 producers, while the number of extensionists was over 3,000. 


Colombia has several universities; two of them that have faculties of agricultural sciences are as follows:

  • National University of Colombia: a public institution of higher learning, established in 1867;  located at Bogota with two other campuses in Medellin .
  • University of Antioquia: a public institution, established in 1803; located at Medellin, but has several regional campuses

Both of these universities, especially the National University of Colombia, have not only been offering degree programs in agricultural sciences but have also been engaged in various capacities in the provision of extension and other technical assistance to the producers. The universities have been registered in Registry of Technical Assistance Providers (EPSAGROS). 

Agricultural research institutes

For several decades, publically funded agricultural research institutes in Colombia have been playing an important role in not only technology generation but also in the transfer of improved technologies to the producers in collaboration with various central and decentralized extension and rural technical assistance entities. The country’s public agricultural research system underwent a major reform in 1993.

Non-Public Institutions

Private sector

The private sector engaged in the provision of extension services to the producers in Colombia comes in the form of commodity and trade associations and federations, which may also be considered as farmers-based organizations. They are registered in the Registry of Technical Assistance Providers (EPSAGROS). Names of some of the major associations engaged in extension delivery are as follows:

  • National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia (FEDECAFE or FNC - La Federación Nacional de Cafeteros de Colombia) one of the oldest institutions of Colombia involved in technical assistance and welfare of especially small and medium coffee growers; developed several agricultural institutions in the country; reached 553 municipalities in 2005 with the support of about 1,100 technicians including 663 extension agents; and had 1,277 extension staff in 2009.
  • Colombian Cattle Ranchers Federation (FEDEGAN – Federación Colombiana de Ganaderos)
  • National Federation of Oil Palm Growers of Colombia (FEDEPALMA – Federación Nacionalde Cultivadores de Palma) .
  • National Federation of Cocoa Growers of Colombia (FEDECACAO – Federación Nacional de Cacaotero) and had 456 extension staff in 2009.
  • Colombia Federation of Potato Growers (FEDEPAPA – Federación Colombiana de Productores de Papa)
  • Professional Association of Pro-environment and Agriculture (ASPROMA) and had 8 extension staff in 2009.
  • Association of Agricultural and Environmental Professionals (ASOPROGOT) and had 18 extension staff in 2009.
  • Caqueta Reforestation and Rubber Growers Association (ASOHECA) and had 20 extension staff in 2009.
  • Federation of Rice Growers (FEDEARROS – Federación Nacional de Arroceros).

Non-governmental organizations

There are a large number of NGOs, which are actively participating in the delivery of extension services in Colombia, and their names and particulars appear in the Registry of Technical Assistance Providers (EPSAGROS). Names of some of the national NGOs are given below as examples:

  • CANAGUARO Foundation had 16 extension staff in 2009.
  • Chirigua Foundation had 20 extension staff in 2009.
  • CIPAV Foundation; also called as the Center for Research on Sustainable Farming Systems and had 65 extension staff in 2009.
  • FUNTECPROANORCA Foundation; also called as the Foundation of Technicians, Agricultural Professionals, and Environmentalists of North Cauca Colombia and had 128 extension staff in 2009.
  • Inngenios Foundation and had 67 extension staff in 2009.
  • Mata de Monte Foundation and had 14 extension staff in 2009.
  • Shemam Foundation and had 76 extension staff in 2009.
  • Socio-cultural Foundation for Ecological Development and Environmental Protection and had 561 extension staff in 2009.
  • Corporacion PBA; also called as Corporation for Participative and Sustainable Development of Colombian Small Producers and works with international cooperation agencies and national counterparts.
  • CEAM; also called as Environmental Studies, Education and Research Corporation and had 37 extension staff in 2009.
  • COLDEAGRO (Colombia Corporation for the Competitive Development of Agriculture) and had 14 extension staff in 2009.
  • AGROCOLOMBIA (Agribusiness Sector Development and Environment Corporation) and had 249 staff in 2009.
  • Serraniagua Corporation and had 6 extension staff in 2009.

Many international NGOs have offices in Colombia, and are involved in various development activities. Examples of such NGOs are: Americares; Mercy Corps; World Vision; American Jewish World Service; Adventist Development and Relief Agency; and Lutheran World Relief.

Farmers-based associations, cooperatives and societies

Many farmers-based associations in Colombia may also be categorized as commodity and trade associations and federations mentioned earlier in this section. There are, however, some other associations, which may or may not have commercial character, but are engaged in rural community development and extension type activities.  Some of them are mentioned below:

  • Peasant Farmers’ Association of the Cimitarra River Valley (ACVC): Created in 1996; carries out social, political and community work in about 120 small rural communities in eight municipalities in the Magdalena Medio region; its 25,000 members are small-scale farmers (Campesinos); work centered on the Peasant Farmer Reserve Zone (also called as Peasant Enterprise Zone) and its Sustainable Development Plan, which focuses on issues of human rights, education, health, and agriculture; received Colombia’s National Peace Prize in 2010 in view of its peace and development efforts in a violence-prone region.
  • Association of Young Environmentalists (ASOJAG): had 33 extension staff in 2009.
  • Community Development Association of Producers and Fishermen (APROPESCAM): had 14 extension staff in 2009.
  • Serraniagua Corporation: had 6 extension staff in 2009.
  • National Union of Colombia Cattle Association (UNAGA): had 67 staff in 2009.
  • Colombia Association of Flower Producers (ASCOLFLORES – Asociación Colombiana de Productores de Flores).
  • Colombia Association of Seed Producers (ACOSEMILLA – Asociación Colombiana de Productores de Semillas).

Agricultural cooperatives are quite active in Colombia, and many of them not only receive but also offer technical assistance/extension services. Names of some of the cooperatives are given below:

  • Cooperativa Multiactiva de Arenal: and had 5 extension staff in 2009.
  • Asociación de Caficultores Orgânicos de Colombia (ACOC - Association of Organic Coffee Growers of Colombia).
  • INGRUMA: (formed in 1984); Has about 80,000 people on four reservations and provides technical support for farming, education, and promotion of indigenous culture.
  • Iquira Multiactive Agri-mining Cooperative: Based in the settlements of San Luis, El Tote, Alto Damitas, El Vergel, Cedro Damitas and Buenos Aires; formed by 31coffee growers who own property inside the mining concession; given the interest in gold and silver exploitation on their property, growers chose to protect their heritage by alternating their agricultural activities with small-scale responsible mining.
  • Colombian Coffee Cooperative: Located in the golden triangle (named not after the drugs but for its deep volcanic, fertile soil) of Colombia; covers about 500,000 coffee families each with farms of about three hectares; has done social development; and more than 100 scientists working for Cenicafe, the cooperative’s research arm with excellent labs.
  • Centra Café (Huila Central Farmers’ Cooperative): Had 31 extension staff in 2009.


List of Extension Providers

icon target The following list shows an excerpt from the GFRAS Directory of Extension Providers for Colombia. Some of these entries may be specially marked for having more detailed information in the database of the Worldwide Extension Study WWES.




Training options for extension professionals

For pre-service academic preparation, interested persons could enroll in relevant degree programs at the National University of Colombia or at the University of Antioquia. Both of these institutions of higher learning have faculties of agricultural sciences.

For in-service training, extension professionals could contact the following:

  • National University of Colombia.
  • University of Antioquia.
  • Saint Mary’s University developed a training program in sustainable agriculture at UFPS, Colombia from 1997 to 2003 with the assistance of the Canadian International Development Agency.
  • Colombian Corporation for Agricultural Research (CORPOICA).
  • International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT).
  • Provincial Centers of Agri-business Management (CPGA).
  • Trade federations and associations mentioned earlier under the sub-section “private sector.”
  • NGOs mentioned in the previous sub-section “NGOs”.
  • Farmers-based associations mentioned under the previous sub-section “farmers-based associations, cooperatives and societies”.
  • SGS in Bogota, Colombia offers agricultural training courses for professionals in seed, crops, forestry, fertilizer, bio-fuel and other agricultural services and industries.
  • Carrefour Foundation, Colombia in 2012, organized a training program for indigenous families in the Caucas region in how to establish a sustainable agricultural industry; also in 2012, supported the LaSalle Opal-Casanare University through its UTOPIA educational project, aimed at disadvantaged youth from rural areas.
  • International donor-funded projects on rural and agricultural development that have training and capacity building components. 



Info-mediaries and information and communication technology (ict) for agriculture and extension

In 2012, Colombia won the Government Leadership Award of the Year at the Global Telecommunications Conference, held in Barcelona, for having the most innovative telecommunication policies (Plan Vive Digital 2010-2014). According to the Economic and Social Department of the United Nations, Colombia is the second highest ranked country in Latin America and the Caribbean for e-government, and the sixth highest ranked worldwide in electronic participation. Colombia’s Ministry of Information and Communication Technologies defines and promotes the policy of ICT sector to ensure its access, use and adoption by the community, business, and the government. The Ministry’s e-government program, Gobierno en Linea, incorporated its activities in the National Development Plan 2010-2014 and in the Plan Vive Digital. Some of the ICT programs being implemented in Colombia include Urna de Cristal (Crystal Ballot Box), Fortalecimiento de la Industria (FITI), MIPYME Vive Digital, CPE program, En TIC Confio and Redvolucion. According to the World Bank, in 2012, the number of mobile cellular subscriptions (per 100 people) in Colombia was 103.18. During the same year, the number of Internet users (per 100 people) in the country was 48.98.

Some of the ICT initiatives taken for agricultural and rural development in Colombia are as follows:



Resources and references

Adams, D.W. 1968. Leadership, Education and Agricultural Development Programs in Colombia. LTC Reprint No. 45. Madison, Wisconsin: Land Tenure Center, University of Wisconsin.

Barrantes, A.B. 2007. Rural Partnerships between Small Farmers and Private Commercial Sector: The Case of Colombia. Paper presented at the 3rd International Conference on Linking Markets and Farmers, held at New Delhi, 12-15 March 2007.

Beintema, N.M., L.J. Romano, and P.G. Pardey. 2000. Agricultural R&D in Colombia: Policy, Investments, and Institutional Profile. Washington, DC: International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), and Regional Fund for Agricultural Technology (FONTAGRO).

Bentley, J.W. and P.S. Baker. 2000. The Colombia Coffee growers’ Federation: Organized Successful Smallholder Farmers for 70 Years. AgREN Network Paper No. 100. ODI Agricultural Research & Extension Network.

Bojanic, A.J. 2001. Extension, Poverty and Vulnerability in Bolivia and Colombia: Country Studies for the Neuchatel Initiative. Working Paper 153. London: Overseas Development Institute.

Davis, F.S. and S. Fonseca. 1971. Recent advances and the immediate future in agricultural education in Colombia. Davis_NACTA_Journal_December_1971-10.pdf, Pp. 113-114.

Felstehausen, H. 1968. Fitting Agricultural Extension to the Development Needs of Colombia. LTC No. 57. Madison, Wisconsin: Land Tenure Center, University of Wisconsin.

ILCA  2007. .Success Stories in the Use of ICTs for Agricultural Research and Innovation in Latin America and the Caribbean. San Jose, Costa Rica: Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture.

Jaramillo, P. (no date; probably 2008). Virtual Schools: Safe Access to ICT by Rural Children in Colombia. Global Knowledge Partnership (GKP).

McMahon, M.A. 2011. Latin America – Public Agricultural Advisory Services: A Quest for Relevance. PowerPoint presentation. 

Molina, J.P. 2010. Territorial perspective of agricultural extension policies in Colombia. Agronomia Colombiana. vol. 28 no. 3 Bogota Sept./Dec. 2010.

Ospina, A.V. 2012. E-Adaptation within Agricultural Livelihoods in Colombia’s High Mountain Regions [case study]. United Kingdom: Center for Development Informatics (CDI), University of Manchester.

Plaxico, J.S. 1970. Agricultural development effort assessment: The Colombian case. Southern Journal of Agricultural Economics, December, 1970, Pp. 69-76.

Rodriguez, J.D.G. 2011. Smallholders’ Agricultural Cooperatives and Rural Development in Colombia. Unpublished M.Sc. dissertation submitted to the University of Oxford.

Roseboom, J. 2006. Institutional Innovation in Agricultural Research and Extension Systems in Latin America and the Caribbean. Washington, DC: The World Bank.

Stads, G.J. and L. Romano. 2008. Agricultural Science & Technology Indicators: Colombia. ASTI Country Brief No. 39. Washington, DC: International Food Policy Research Institute. .

Vega, D.M. 2013. Colombia’s Digital Agenda: Successes and the Challenges Ahead. Chapter 2.1 in The Global Information Technology Report 2013, Pp. 111-117.


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