The hero of Colombian coffee farmers

After working in the city for a year, Colombian Juan Pablo Romero returned to his place of birth. Why? To start his own coffee production, and successfully so!

My Name is Juan Pablo Romero, I am 22 years old and I was born in Cincelada, Santander. My parents are small farmers that have always worked picking and cultivating coffee, activities developed with my 5 siblings and me. In 2013, when I was 18 years old, I decided to move to the capital city of Santander because the living conditions in the rural area were very difficult. My family had to struggle to get sufficient income, the violence was affecting the social fabric of the region and I was not motivated to stay at the farm, there were no possibilities for me. In the city I worked as a janitor for an urban landscape company, however, the conditions in the city were very different from expected, I had to endure difficulties and I was far apart from my family. I was trapped in a circle of poverty.

Nonetheless, in 2014 one of my sisters told me about a project addressed to youth in Santander to start coffee production projects, the initiative immediately captured my attention and I got more information about the activities. Because of the project "Education for the future in Santander", I decided to come back to Cincelada. I have been trained on productive topics, today I have a successful coffee project and I received social support and orientation from the project team. Based on the progress I made, the President of Colombia and FNC awarded me with the recognition of the Coffee Growers' Hero during the World Coffee Producers Forum in Medellin Colombia a few months ago. 

In this way, I can be the example for the Colombian youth to believe and remain in the rural area. I want to recall the words that the President of Colombia Mr. Juan Manual Santos shared: "Juan Pablo Romero was recognized as "the Coffee Growers' Hero" during the World Coffee Producers Forum. He is an example of the important role of youth in the peace building process based on the work in the rural areas. I am convinced that bringing well-being to rural areas is crucial to overcome poverty, and to boost the progress and work of young people like Juan Pablo." I am really happy and proud of my achievements; my goal is to expand my coffee project to have 20.000 productive plants and create better conditions for my community. I want to thank the Efico Foundation, the Collibri Foundation, FNC and SENA for providing me with a concrete option to develop my potential, bringing hope for peace and supporting the rural areas of Colombia.

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