Colombia strikes deal to buy land from cattle ranchers

BOGOTA, October 7 (Reuters)The Colombian government has struck a deal with cattle ranchers to buy 3 million hectares (7.4 million acres) of land, earmarked for poor rural farmers to push land reform aimed at boosting food production and tackling against poverty, said the Minister of Agriculture on Friday.

“We have reached a total agreement, it is a historic act, the third part of the agrarian reform begins,” Agriculture Minister Cecilia Lopez said in a statement, adding that the agreement will be signed next week. by President Gustavo Petro, Colombia’s first leftist. chief.

The cost of the purchase and how it will be funded were not disclosed.

Petro is pushing for land reform to respond to part of a peace deal signed in 2016 between the then government and the now demobilized FARC guerrilla group that ended the rebels’ involvement in the internal armed conflict of Colombia, which has lasted nearly six decades and left at least 450,000 dead.

Last month, Petro proposed to modify the country’s medium-term fiscal framework to incur domestic debt of some 60 trillion pesos ($13 billion) to buy land and resell it to poor farmers affected by violence in prices below those of the market.

The deal comes amid a series of land invasions, which the government has condemned.

Jose Felix Lafaurie, president of the Colombian Cattle Breeders Association Fedegan, said the deal was done in less than a month.

“We have reached an excellent agreement that will bring a lot of tranquility to the rural sector,” said Lafaurie, adding that the agreement will help consolidate a rural middle class that will help meet Colombia’s food challenges.

The land reform will also see titles for 600,000 hectares awarded to farmers, while a further 125,000 hectares confiscated from accused drug traffickers will be leased, the agriculture minister added.

(Reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta; Writing by Oliver Griffin; Editing by Aurora Ellis)

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