Lake Fuquene in Colombia is at the center of an environmental controversy. The watershed is changing and concerns are mounting over the health and biodiversity of the lake. Crop production and cattle raising in the Fuquene watershed have degraded the ecosystem. In an attempt to decrease nutrient and sediment flows into the lake, local partners promoted a transition from traditional practices to conservation agriculture (CA). CA practices promote permanent soil cover, minimum tillage and crop rotation with green manures. These practices control erosion, increase water percolation, increase soil water storage capacity, improve soil organic matter content, and increase crop quality and yield.
Adoption of CA practices finally picked up with the promotion of a scheme for payment for environmental services (PES). Partners set up a revolving fund program managed by farmers’ associations. The fund provided smallholder farmers with credit to make an initial investment in conservation agriculture. So far, 100% of the first round of loans have been recovered. From 2006 to 2009, more than 180 hectares of land were brought under conservation agriculture.
Anon. Paying for Environmental Services in an Andean Watershed: Encouraging Outcomes from Conservation Agriculture. The CGIAR Challenge Program on Water and Food, Sri Lanka (2013) 3 pp.