Edgar Montenegro founded Corpocampo in 2003 with the aim of using food production to build sustainable communities. The Colombian Pacific Coast region has long been affected by the country’s internal conflict, leading to widespread poverty, violence, and illegal coca crop production. Edgar wanted to improve peoples’ lives by providing a legal and reliable source of income. His company specializes in the production and distribution of Açaí berries and Palm hearts, with all products deriving from sustainable farming practices. Operating in several locations in Colombia, Edgar works closely with local Afro-Colombian communities and indigenous people. Corpocampo has provided jobs for over 240 female-headed households, impacting over 1,300 families. Edgar is recognized for his courageous achievements proving how the private sector can build peace by identifying business opportunities that help marginalised groups become more resilient.
“I am proud of the work we have been doing for several years in Corpocampo,” said Montenegro. “It is very gratifying to be recognised for the work we do in places where the situation of poverty and insecurity is very different to the one in the capital. Although it is often difficult to do business in the middle of the jungle due to the lack of infrastructure and the presence of armed groups and drug traffickers, we know that what we do in Corpocampo ensures the well-being of 1,300 families and we have a very big commitment to them.”
Açaí contains a potent combination of cholesterol-reducing fats and anti-aging antioxidants and became one of the fastest-growing superfoods in Europe.
For more information, please visit the website of Business for Peace;
Jaime Carrera, a peasant born in Puerto Asís, spent many years from one rural division to another growing coca leaf. He describes his relationship with this plant as a curse. It was in the village of Paradise where he, along with other farmers, decided to change his strategy and opt to diversify crops. The town that once lived harrowing stories of violence, is now one of the drivers of change in the South of the country, providing new opportunities to farmers that for years only found sustenance in the cultivation of the coca leaf, or in illegal activities such as the illicit trade of wildlife or wood.
In this framework of progress and hope, another plant has the leading role in this story, the Palm of Sancristán as it is called in Putumayo, also popularly known as Açai; a fruit that in Brazil reaches 6,000 tons in trade. The Açai is popular not only for its nutritional benefits, since it has a high content of antioxidants, vitamins A, C and B, essential fats such as omega 3, 6 and 9 and proteins, but also because it has paved the way for new economic opportunities in the area. Increasingly, farmers realize that growing Açai is more profitable and less dangerous than cultivating coca leaf.
The Açai harvesting is done manually, in Palms that can be signifyingly high, and although the climbing technique may vary between farmer, it must be done very carefully to avoid damaging the Açai.
Corpocampo is the largest producer of Açai in Colombia. With presence both in the Pacific and in Putumayo, Corpocampo has three production plants in the Cauca, Nariño and Putumayo departments. Açai has become an example of development and sustainability from the social, environmental and economic perspective.
Social viability rests in the support and training of families who formerly engaged in the cultivation of the coca leaf, reinforcing the empowerment of farmers to their land with legitimate products. The production of Açai requires fauna. Thus, birds and rodents are the best allies for this ecosystem, spread throughout the land seeds that will blossom into future Palms and provide work for more families. The Department of Putumayo provides a suitable environment where the agro-ecological conditions of precipitation, temperature, and altitude, in relation to sea level, are ideal for its development. Furthermore, the Açai is a plant has a life and production expectancy of between 70 and 80 years, which increases the biomass per area, as well as life expectancy of the fauna and flora.
Annually, Corpocampo is producing about 5,000 tons, of which 98% is for export and only 2% for domestic sale. In Colombia, this product is not well known and is sold only to certain economic sectors of society, whereas in countries like Brazil, Açai can be found in every corner as a coffee substitute. The major Açai consumers are in North America, Asia, and Europe.
It´s needless to say that Açai is a development alternative which complies with the law and environmental regulations in Colombia. Because it was not only until 2011 that Açai become commercial, this new market opens many investment opportunities. Nonetheless, there is still a long way to go in terms of technical training and market penetration in the domestic market. Açai, also known as the black gold of the Amazon, is an excellent example of how illicit crops of the coca leaf can be substituted, providing better living conditions for local farmers.
In the past couple of years Corpocampo has been working hard to improve the quality of their products. One of the recent improvements is the adjustment of the MESH size of the Organic Freeze Dried Açaí Powder. They now use a sieve of 0,3 mm and can offer a MESH of 50. Corpocampo is also developing an organic aseptic Açaí pulp.
We are happy to send you sample and/or quotations. We receive shipments on a regular basis, so we can always offer fresh products.