After being displaced from Antioquia eighteen years ago, Diana found herself involved in the illegal economy out of necessity. For a long time, her leadership skills were unutilized as she worked the coca plantations in El Naranjal, a rural area of the municipality of Bolivar, in the northern region of the Valle del Cauca Department. Martha arrived to the same area with her family, responding to the coca boom that attracted them from Chocó. The decision to eradicate their crops was difficult, given the uncertainty of how they would make a living afterwards. However, after years of anguish during the years they grew coca, the decision brought much relief.
Today, Martha and Diana are part of productive associations that provide food and bring prosperity to the community of El Naranjal. Supported by the Contingency Plan to Support Ex-coca Grower Families, the projects implemented by their associations have built a community collection center. The center provides a space where they can develop various activities including community meetings, trainings, and the collection of food to sell at farmer markets.
In this episode of “Women Seeding Peace”, Martha and Diana share how the community collection center is serving to organize and connect the efforts of their associations with commercial opportunities to sell their products at farmer’s market. The farmer’s markets have been organized in association with other communities eradicating coca in the neighboring municipality of El Dovio.
Like Martha and Diana, women who have substituted coca crops across Colombia are creating a new life for themselves and their communities. The “Women Seeding Peace” web series collects the stories of participants of PASO Colombia’s Contingency Plan, which supports families registered in the government’s National Comprehensive Program for the Substitution of Illicit Crops (PNIS). Today, these women are the driving forces of sustainable development in their territories.
The Contingency Plan to Support Ex-coca Grower Families is funded by the UN Multipartner Trust Fund for Sustaining Peace in Colombia, and implemented by PASO Colombia in coordination with the Presidential Office for Stabilization and Consolidation.