Coca has many nutritional and medicinal qualities. It is therefore not surprising that coca is considered a sacred plant for 4000 years. But coca is not only beneficial for the health of consumers, it has also a lot of financial opportunities for cultivators. With the right climate and altitude, coca can be cultivated easily in the Andean region: she can be harvested three times a year. Therefore, coca has a lot of economic opportunity for farmers in the Andean region. But due to the illegal status of coca, farmers are deprived of this possibility.
The focus of the War on Drugs policy is destroying coca plantations, which is done through military intervention: manually or with chemical pesticides. Besides the fact that this form of destruction leads to violent confrontations between coca farmers and the military, the destruction causes abrupt loss of the livelihoods of already vulnerable and marginalized communities in South American countries.
Ecologically, destroying coca plantations also has irreversible consequences. Due to destruction of their farming land, coca farmers are forced to migrate. Land must be cleared for new settlements, or in some cases new coca plantations, for which precious rainforests must be cut down. Chemicals like glyphosate used to destroy coca also contaminate the living environment of communities, like the soil, the water, which endangers the health of the population and hinders the growth of other crops.
The focus on destroying coca plantations is therefore not a sustainable solution on a social, economic and ecological level. Also, countries in which coca grows, miss out on a unique international market. A fair and constructive alternative and human based approach is legalizing coca and opening a market for coca products. To prevent a Western controlled neo-liberal market of coca products and to maintain an agriculture that respects nature, Fair Trade Coke promotes a bottom-up policy, in which South American farmer corporations have the sovereignty over their product. After all, they are the ones who know coca best! A great example of this farmer corporation is Coca Nasa.