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Colombian marching protest farmers defend the coca leaf

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By Christopher Cummins  with AGENCIES
Colombian marching protest farmers defend the coca leaf

Coca producers in Colombia have marched against the government’s new crop substitution programme, part of the peace deal with the FARC rebel group.

The government has announced that swathes of coca leaf plantations, the raw material for cocaine, are to be eradicated this year.

The farmers want authorities to respect their livelihood and make realistic policy proposals.

Edgar Mora is the leader of the famers union:“The areas with coca cultivations are isolated areas, with simple people, good workers.
Rural people haven’t found an alternative to cultivating coca because if they cultivate other products they’ll lose money and they don’t find profitability in the legal products the government talks about.”

The coca leaf was declared an illegal narcotic in the 1961 UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, along with cocaine, heroin, opium and morphine and a host of chemical drugs.

Coca leaves are chewed widely across South America and act as a mild stimulant.

Post-Conflict Commissioner Rafael Pardo said the government would invest $340 million in the substitution program, which he said would benefit 50,000 families.