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| 1/20/2011 12:00:00 AM

Colombian farmers find safety, success in growing alternatives to coca

January 20--Jorge Elias Benjumea proudly inspects his plantain field. The 46-year-old father of three says he's not only happy his crops are doing well, but also, for the first time in years, he can tell the world that what he's growing is legal.

Benjumea, a resident of the Colombian province of Meta; used to grow coca, the plant from which cocaine is produced.

"Everything is different now, more peaceful. I go to bed at night with no worries," Benjumea says.

He used to make $2,800 a month growing coca. Now he makes about $840 with plantains. On the flip side, he doesn't have to deal with guerrillas or drug traffickers anymore. The Colombian government has greatly increased its military presence in the area, improving security and giving farmers an alternative to growing coca.
 
Read more here.

Semana International delivers news about Colombia in English. Find more in our home.

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