French supermarket giant Carrefour has started to sell coffee that has been grown in fields that previously had coca leaves growing in them, as part of a plan to help eradicate Colombia's drug plantations.

Under a government drug eradication programme 1,024 families in the Cauca region of southeastern Colombia have replaced their more lucrative crops of coca with coffee that will be sold at Carrefour supermarkets. Carrefour is expected to sell around 50 tonnes per month of the coffee, which is named Cosurca (Spanish acronym for South Cauca Coffee Grower's Cooperative). The coffee may also be exported to Spain and France.

Farmers in Cauca have voluntarily switched over 1,000 hectares of farmland from coca to coffee in the last five years despite the lower value of coffee.

US ambassador to Colombia, Anne Patterson, who attended an unveiling of a Cosurca display at Bogota's Carrefour supermarket, praised Carrefour and said she hoped other businesses would follow its example.

Carrefour also sells palm hearts from Putumayo and beans from Bolivar, two other major coca-growing regions, reported Agence France-Presse.