BOGOTA, Nov. 25 (UPI) -- A major rebel group in peace talks with the Colombian government says it wants an active role in a pilot project to get coca farmers to grow alternative crops.
A similar proposal was discussed during talks that failed in 2002 following 10 years of negotiations with FARC, Colombia Reports said Monday.
Under the proposal, the rebel group's local military unit would team up with the government in the village of Cartagena de Chaira in southern Colombia for a five-year project intended to get farmers there to stop growing coca, which can be used to make cocaine, in favor of more acceptable crops.
FARC wants the government to hire agronomists, sociologists, economists and anthropologists to study the soil and economic potential of the area.
The government and foreign businessmen would be invited to invest in a local fund to purchase crops, cattle and other material needed to create a local economy that is not dependent on coca production as a source of income, FARC said in a statement on its website.
The group wants countries such as the United States to financially support the effort.
"The experiment seeks to demonstrate that illicit crops are not difficult to eradicate, if you take into account that when the will and desire to fight this global phenomenon exist, it must be done with large investments, aimed at solving the social problems that have arisen, and not devoting large sums of money to repressive plans against the population," the statement said.
FARC promised to use its members to help local farmers move from coca to other crops.
The rebel group also wants a new emphasis on tourism once the 5-decade-long conflict ends and for the Colombian government to increase public services in the area.