Ricardo Hegedus raised his voice so he could be heard over the clanging of tea-packaging machines. “Coca is a marvellous gift of nature, offering a moderate stimulant like coffee – but full of vitamins and minerals,” he said.
Hegedus, the manager of Windsor – Bolivia’s largest coca leaf tea producer – pointed to stacked boxes of teabags and said: “We have dreamt of exporting coca tea for the 26 years I have worked here.”
That vision of an expanding international market for legal coca products – such as flour, tea and ointments – is shared widely in Bolivia, and it was the driving force for a recent law signed this month by president Evo Morales that jacks up the 12,000 hectares (29,640 acres) legally recognized in a 1988 law to 22,000 hectares.
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Thumbnail: Flickr CC Duane Storey