Zidres: a boost for agriculture and tourism

Bringing agricultural projects to these zones which most of them are located in the Llanos Orientales region, imply to train the peasants of this areas in order to start producing, and, hence, it would not only bring infrastructure development but also technical knowledge for peasants.

The Relevant Rural Zones for Economic and Social Development (Zidres) are special economic zones focused on agricultural production which will be established as remote or hard-to-reach areas, with low population density and several unsatisfied basic needs, in which the land requires of large investment in order to start producing.  Such zones and their scope were the main dicussion topic between Lorena Garnica, EY expert, and the members of the AmCham Colombia Agroindustry Committee.

According to Garnica, this figure could be a great opportunity to bring development to these zones, combining agricultural production, technology and ecotourism, since it allows the executor of the productive project to ask for the concession or rent of the Nation's waste lands and ask for the amount of lands that its plan needs, in which they can develop projects as free zones,  agricultural technological parks, which at the same time may become ecotourism attractions. 

That's why the Government enabled more than seven million hectares for food production and forest resources, respecting the environment and the generation of decent countryside jobs within the Zidres framework.  Although during its aproval it had all types of criticism which argued that the law was unconstitutional, two serious constitutional studies achieved to demonstrate that that was not the case.

“This is the most constitutional law I can recall, for it has been the object of two serious analyses of constitutionality, the first one in 2017 with sentence C077 and the other one in March this year, which enabled to draw the conclusion that it is not a regressive law for the rights of vunerable populations”, stated Garnica.

According to the EY expert, and opposed to what was argued declaring them unconstitutional, the idea with these projects is to reach remote places in order to generate a legal sustainability for current or new investments and in this way bring infrastructure and services development to those places improving the inhabitants quality of life.  Similarly, another expected consequence coming from the projects, is that it´s a requirement for companies to ensure that peasants with little or no land are included as partners in the projects, and when the Zidres are finally established, the small producers or the peasants may obtain the property title of the land which was assigned to them during the development of the project.

In addition, bringing agricultural projects to these zones which most of them are located in the Llanos Orientales region, imply to train the peasants of this areas in order to start producing, and, hence, it would not only bring infrastructure development but also technical knowledge for peasants.

“Another progress that could be achieved from these developments is that these areas, historically dependant from extracting industries, will change their export offer diversifying it with other products coming from agriculture or offering technological services, even combining them with touristic projects which will generate more jobs.” said Garnica.

There are yet some formalities to start off the project, there are mayors and governors who see a huge potential in implemmenting the Zidres in their territories, and are starting to look for ways to capitalize it.  “The Puerto López mayor with Meta's governor have been the first ones who have begun to look for the permits, investors, and suitable conditions to install a succesful Zidres within their municipality once the project starts.” declared the EY expert.

The opportunity for two sectors as agriculture and tourism that will be of great relevance for the development of the Colombian economy is served with the Zidres, but Lorena Garnica thinks that the final stitch is missing: a good communication, since for her, the only reason there hasn't been a great interest in the projects is because of the lack of knowledge of entrepreneurs and local entities.

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