Creation of National Agricultural Innovation System (SNIA) in Colombia

On 29 December 2017, a new law relating to research and education in the farming and livestock sectors was incorporated into the Constitution of the Republic of Colombia. 

These new instruments were implemented in the aim of preventing the rural parts of the country from being considered as “lagging behind” the rest of the nation. This system will be coordinated by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and other entities such as Colciencias, the National Planning Department (DNP) and Corpoica

The latest national census offers a perfect illustration of the degree to which the farming sector and rural community have fallen behind in terms of technology: only 10% of producers have access to technical assistance and only a fifth use machines and an effective irrigation system in their work. According to figures from the World Bank, the rural population accounted for 23% of the national population in 2016.

But what is law no. 1876 really about, and what measures has the Colombian government taken?

The SNIA firstly takes into consideration the geographical, cultural and ethnic specificities of regions. It pledges that its actions shall not harm the environment and that the rural communities shall be the only beneficiaries of this development process. While the Act of Parliament was developed in the context of the end of the armed conflict, it is the only one which does not deal with the themes of justice, political rights or amnesty. It is an economic project with social benefits. The main objectives of this new agriculture and livestock model are to contribute to improving productivity and competitivity in the country through the articulation and streamlining of national and regional policies.

However, according to the president of UNAGA (Unión Nacional de Asociaciones Ganaderas de Colombia – National Federation of livestock associations in Colombia) Ricardo Sánchez Rondón, the main problem with this law is that it fails to acknowledge producers as active workers and managers of the steering bodies of the national agricultural innovation system. Although the Colombian government promotes the participation of the private sector in the management of science and national technology, law no. 1876 does not allocate a seat on the National Council for Agricultural Innovation to a representative of producers or the private sector. All representatives will come from the public sector.

The scant recognition of interaction between public and private sectors is not conducive to increased investment, and therefore totally undermines the principles of this law. However, the fact that the authorities have identified this need for technological resources in a rural environment is the first step towards its economic and social development.