"There is definitely a temptation to grow coca, especially in rural communities," explains Manuel Mosquera, pastor of the Istmina Mennonite Brethren Church and coordinator of "Food not Coca."
"Our vision is to improve the living standards of the participants, to help them keep farming food crops and keep them from getting involved in the production of coca," says Mosquera
encourages a focus on maintaining healthy soil and a quality product.
Few are living off proceeds from the project, but Mosquera
"Production is still not enough to enjoy the benefits," notes Mosquera
, "but they are learning how to work together, how to share responsibilities."
plans to encourage people living in towns to begin small gardens in their own yards.
"It will involve more education," says Mosquera
"Even if they aren't able to earn money by selling what their gardens produce, they can save money and use it on something else."
has many new ideas for the region.