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close this bookAgricultural Expansion and Pioneer Settlements in the Humid Tropics (UNU, 1988, 305 pages)
close this folder16. Organized settlement on the Amazon frontier: The Caquetá project in Colombia
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentThe project
View the documentProject characteristics
View the documentTarget population
View the documentDevelopment or stabilizing strategy
View the documentThe environmental issue in Colombia
View the documentMaterial accomplishments of Phase II
View the documentProject investment and cost
View the documentSocio-political events in the project area
View the documentStability of the production model
View the documentEnvironmental effects
View the documentEnvironmental costs
View the documentFrontier stabilization alternatives
View the documentFrontier management technology

The project

The Caquetá Project was implemented in phases. Phases I and II overlap geographically, covering an area of 1.8 million ha. The first phase was begun in 1969 and the second in 1975. Given the fact that at the beginning of Phase I the area had already been partially subjected to spontaneous settlement by peasant farmers who had migrated from the adjacent inter-Andean valleys between 1958 and 1965, the Phase I project can be characterized as "an effort to stabilize settlers who might otherwise become itinerant slash and burn farmers." Thus Phase I was justified both socially and economically on the basis of contributing to stabilize a low income population by providing it with a mix of capital, technology, transport and social infrastructure, designed to generate and consolidate a production process based on the establishment of extensive livestock production farms.

Since environmental considerations were of little importance at the time (the environmental protection agency, INDERENA-National Institute for Renewable Natural Resources-was created in 1968) and because the fragile nature of the area's soils was not well known, Phase I and both its economic and environmental results cannot be taken as a model project for the evaluation purposes of this paper. PhaseII, on the other hand, merely a geographical continuation and repetition of the mistakes of Phase I, was prepared at a time when preliminary economic results from the first groups of beneficiaries of Phase I were coming out and when the environmental effects of the land use changes induced by the production model selected were already beginning to take their toll.

For these reasons, I will draw most of my observations and preliminary conclusions from the experiences of the recently concluded Phase II of the Caquetá Project.