The Valle del Cauca is Colombia’s sugar producing region with growing, harvesting and production centered around communities such as Palmira, Ginebra and Tulua. When haciendas began refining cane into sugar more than a century ago, the Cauca valley and its capital Cali became important industrial clusters of the economy and today, they are home to some of Colombia’s most pretigious companies.
Sugar is the region’s largest employer with 40,000 jobs linked directly to plantations and more than 200,000 workers hired informally as ‘coteros’ or cane cutters. Eleven mills – ingenuos – in the Cauca valley produce 95% of the total national sugar supply and a growing demand for biofuels such as ethanol is attracting important international investment. From the air the mills recall another age: one of verdant fields and peaceful hamlets. A Victorian might have said, how green is my Valle!