Whitworth Communications

For Immediate Release

September 11, 2006

From Cocaine to Coffee: Colombian Farmers Change Course

Freddy Urbano to tell story of Cosurca fair-trade cooperative's efforts
to replace coca plants with coffee beans

Farming families in Colombia who once grew the raw material for cocaine are now making a living producing fair-trade organic coffee. Instead of exporting illegal crops of coca, the families, through a farming cooperative known as Cosurca, each year export thousands of 60-kilo sacks of coffee beans.

Freddy Urbano, technical advisor for Cosurca, will present "A Colombian Coffee Story" on Monday, Sept. 25, at 7 p.m. in Weyerhaeuser Hall's Robinson Teaching Theatre at Whitworth College. Admission is free. For more information, please call (509) 777-4269.

Cosurca was formed in 1993 through the efforts of peasant and indigenous farmers and Afro-Colombian organizations in southern Colombia. Cosurca provides organizational and technical support to 1,400 families that operate small coffee plantations. The cooperative also raises awareness in the countryside about voluntary coca eradication and crop-substitution programs.

Cosurca began exporting coffee through intermediaries in 2001; three years later the cooperative formed an export branch, Exposurca, with a two-million-dollar investment from the United Nations and with contributions from the Colombian government.

Urbano's presentation is co-sponsored by the Murdock Lives of Commitment Project at Whitworth and Witness for Peace Northwest, a grassroots organization that supports peace, justice, and sustainable economies in the Americas. Witness for Peace Northwest promotes change in governmental policies and corporate practices that contribute to poverty and oppression in Latin America.

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private, liberal arts college affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Whitworth, which has an enrollment of 2,500 students, offers more than 50 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.

Contacts:

Julia Stronks, professor of political science and director of the Murdock Lives of Commitment Project, Whitworth College, (509) 777-4577 or jstronks@whitworth.edu.

Julie Riddle, public information officer, Whitworth College, (509) 777-3729 or jriddle@whitworth.edu.

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