The first harvest of the first two hectares

Colombia: Former Farc guerrillas now grow bananas

Carlos Alberto Garcia, who used to be known as Arnulfo when he was a member of the now extinct FARC guerrilla group, swapped his rifle for a hoe to work in the fields. "Now we sow life," says the ex-combatant from front 41 who is part of a productive project cultivating plantain in the Serrania del Perija, the same territory in which he operated during the more than 26 years he was in the rebel organization.

Like him, another 43 ex-guerrillas formed the Association of Small Cattle Ranchers, which operates in the foothills of Perija, between the municipalities of Manaure and La Paz, north of Cesar. Many of them went from planting anti-personnel mines, in the context of the conflict, to cultivating the land to sustain themselves and generate income for their families.

"We took a big step," he says, acknowledging that they used landmines as a military strategy in the war. "It was not because we wanted to, but out of necessity. Sometimes we had to plant them to stop the enemy, but that's all over. This is not just a leap for us, but for the whole society," he says, as he harvests a bunch of plantain from the first crop that the first two hectares of the crop are producing.

They also said that they had such a commitment that despite the fact that the government has not complied with the delivery of land, they have resorted to rapprochement with the communities in the normalization spaces to access properties that have allowed them to develop their productive bets, such as the plantain crop near the Manaure River, where they have overcome a strong drought thanks to an irrigation system the UN gave them. "The idea is to continue expanding, now we have two hectares of crops collectively and 46 cattle, but the goal is to continue growing not only for sustain ourselves, but also to trade our products," said Giraldo with hope.

This initiative is much more than a banana crop for the former Farc guerrillas. "We are forging our future," said Carolina Vargas, alias Adriana.


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