Revival for Colombian food sector

Last week, the two-day workshop ‘Co-Creation: Gastronomic schools in Colombia’ was organized in Bogota, Colombia, by ICCO and Generous Minds. The workshop was based on the successful program Manq’a (Buen Apetito) in Bolivia.

The main topic during the workshop was to generate joint solutions and ideas for the development of inclusive and ‘fair’ companies in the food sector, through the creation of gastronomic schools like Manq’a. With this initiative, poverty amongst youth and small producers will be fought, while on the 

other hand awareness will be raised among society on the beautiful and rich Colombian cuisine. 

The workshop was based on ICCO’s Co-Creation model, in which all stakeholders involved in a social problem think along from the start about the most effective solution. Especially those who experience the problematic daily. 

Chefs, organic farmers, retailers, entrepreneurs, market organizations, teachers and students were present, as well as ICCO partners who will be part of the Manq’a Colombia program. All these participants think out of their own strength and expertise, to come up with the most innovative and effective solutions. 

Colombia’s food sector as driving force for development

According to the participants, the food sector in Colombia is not only a source of income. It is connected with nature, climate (change), people, health, culture and community. The diversity in the country presents itself in the Colombian cuisine, like influences from the Andes and the Amazon. But most fundamental is the importance of sharing; therefore, the food sector is not only seen as a way to accelerate economic development, but also to change gastronomic habits in society. 

"A good entrepreneur delivers benefits to the consumer, and only then earns money," chef Eduardo Martinez, partner of Manq’a Colombia.

Gastronomic education in Colombia

Manq’a Bolivia was a special guest at the workshop, a gastronomic school that educates vulnerable youth from El Alto to become a chef and entrepreneur who promote the local Bolivian products and gastronomy. The community of El Alto improves her eating habits, while the producers increase their sales and income. 

This year, the first cooking school Buen Apetito Colombia will be opened in the neighborhood Patio Bonito, Bogota. The inhabitants of Patio Bonito say the name of the neighborhood is misleading. The district is no patio [terrace], and certainly not bonito [beautiful]. The suburb of Bogota has a high percentage of young people, many displaced by the armed conflict that exists for years in Colombia, and experience violence, exploitation, school dropout and unemployment. In addition, the district knows very unhealthy eating habits. Severe thematic, where Manq’a can serve as an alternative.

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