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Coffee, cotton and flowers on eve of Colombia-US free trade agreement's start

Jose Miguel Gomez / Reuters

A farmer harvests coffee beans at a farm near Sasaima city in Colombia.

Jose Miguel Gomez / Reuters

A farmer harvests coffee beans at a farm near Sasaima city on Monday.

John Vizcaino / Reuters

Workers prepare roses at Elite greenhouse in Facatativa on Monday.

John Vizcaino / Reuters

A worker checks on Gerbera flowers at Elite greenhouse in Facatativa.

Albeiro Lopera / Reuters

An employee arranges a bundle of cotton material inside a workshop of textile factory Fabricato in Bello, Antioquia province on Monday.

Albeiro Lopera / Reuters

An employee pushes bundles of cotton inside a workshop of a textile factory.

Stringer/Colombia / Reuters

A panoramic view of the port of Cartagena on Monday.

Stringer/Colombia / Reuters

A crane operator moves a container at the Port of Cartagena.

Colombia Reports quotes an Oxfam report saying that the free trade deal will "bankrupt small farmers and increase poverty in rural Colombia:"

According to the report, the deal with Colombia’s leading trade partner will hit the poorest farmers the hardest, arguing that 400,000 of those already making below minimum wage, currently set at $328.08 a month, will lose between 48% to 70% of their income.

To make up for the loss, the report said that farmers are "likely to take up coca cultivation" for illegal armed groups. The other option for farmers will be to “migrate to urban areas to join some 5 million Colombians – over 10 percent of Colombia’s total population –  who have been forcibly displaced from the countryside over the last 12 years and the great majority of whom live in extreme poverty,” it claimed.

The Colombian government has denied that the FTA will harm key agricultural sectors.

“I do not personally believe, nor does the government believe that an apocalyptic shadow is rising over the Colombian countryside, agriculture and livestock industries that will wipe out everything that has been built in the country,” the Agriculture Minister, Juan Camilo Restrepo has said.

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