A government program has encouraged farmers to substitute cocoa and other products for coca, the raw ingredient of cocaine.
Diego Aponte, the presidential advisor and director of Social Action, announced that of the 300,000 acres currently growing cocoa in Colombia, 145,000 acres were currently growing it under an alternative development plan designed to give farmers alternatives to growing coca.
The program targeted communities either growing coca or at risk of doing so. Aponte said that of the acreage currently in the plan, 72.8% was formerly cultivating coca.
The alternative development plan has not been limited solely to cocoa, either. Aponte stated that through the program 196,000 acres are currently growing palm oil, 70,000 are currently growing coffee, 30,000 are rubber plantations, and 150,000 were devoted to sustainable forest products such as fish, beekeeping, ecotourism and sugarcane.
In all, Aponte estimated that 5.4 million acres have been kept free of coca cultivation and 50,000 jobs have been created.
The advisor said that though this program Colombia is creating a rural social fabric, preserving the environment, and developing sustainable industries.