In Colombia, the lure of profit, pressure from armed groups, and lack of alternatives combine to increase farming of illicit crops. Through the More Investment for Alternative Development (MIDAS) project, Tetra Tech supported the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Government of Colombia (GOC) to bring lasting change to rural communities of Colombia. Our team facilitated a geographic consolidation strategy across agribusiness, small and medium enterprises, and policy in six corridors: Antioquia, Atlantic coast/Sierra Nevada, Eje Cafetero, Macizo/Putumayo, Magdalena Medio, and the south west.

The primary areas of focus included eliminating illicit crop planning and production; creating an environment that promoted and enhanced the viability of the overall level of political, economic, and social development; improving the administration of and access to justice; and increasing the protection of human rights and reducing corruption.

To eliminate illicit crop planting and production, Tetra Tech worked with the GOC to implement and support a “zero coca policy.” Through MIDAS, our program staff were responsible for not only ensuring that program focus areas were free of coca, but also educating farmers and producers about the coca-free policy and encouraging them to reject the growth of illicit crops. 

In addition to transforming attitudes around coca production in rural areas of Colombia, under MIDAS, Tetra Tech allocated program grant and subcontract resources to local Colombian organizations to help implement program activities. This ensured that most MIDAS funds stayed in Colombia and benefitted local economies and also fostered local ownership and sustainability of the program. 

By facilitating access to credit through partnerships with local finance institutions and linking farmers to local and international markets, Tetra Tech helped enhance farming and production of new, alternative crops, increasing profit for rural farmers.

Under MIDAS, our team developed small and medium enterprises focused on profitable sectors including fruits and vegetables, livestock, coffee, oilseed, and beekeeping. We increased job creation, strengthened workforce development, and expanded the markets of key sectors through local and international market linkages and access to finance.

Through our work, our team also gained advanced knowledge of land issues in Colombia through international forums, draft land market and policy reforms, land formalization pilot programs, and assistance with property restitution. Working with USAID and key GOC stakeholders and institutions, we facilitated conversations around important land issues and built municipal and national capacity to create and reform land, finance, labor, forestry, displaced populations, and regional competitiveness policies.

MIDAS has enhanced agricultural sector production methods and marketing, which has transformed the future of rural farming in Colombia. Following the end of the MIDAS program, beneficiaries reported a 33.5 percent improvement in their quality of life over non-beneficiaries, as well as increased capacity to reject illicit activities.

MIDAS had a presence in nearly half of Colombia’s municipalities, allowing more than 500,000 people to benefit from Tetra Tech’s efforts. Beginning with $85 million in USAID funding, we successfully leveraged $571 million from public (8 percent) and private (92 percent) investment to achieve significant results. This included creating more than 260,000 new jobs in the agricultural production sector, which benefitted more than 287,000 families, maintained more than 270,000 hectares free of illicit crops, and laid the foundation for sustainable economic growth in rural areas.