According to ForesTrade, a Vermont-based company specializing in organic produce, some of the healthiest soil in Latin America can be found in Guatemala. Organic certification from for Guatemalan-grown cardamom was obtained from American agencies in only a few months, while the process can take years in countries where pesticides and herbicides have been heavily used.
Most peasant farmers cannot afford the chemicals and equipment needed to farm large plantations, but ironically the spices and coffee they grow on small jungle plots command premium prices in an eco-sensitive market. As organic produce has become an important source of income, farmers have abandoned slash and burn methods that destroyed large tracts of tropical rain forest. Cardamom plants that thrive under tall rainforest canopies fetch the highest prices.
Former guerillas are living better, and preserving rain forest habitat in large part because of their access to global markets.