The challenge of reducing drug crops

The author analyzes illicit drug crops and the objective of curbing coca plantations in the United States and Colombia. He points out the need for measures that can close the supply of raw material or replace crops with rural reform.

April 7, 2020-Reading time: 2 minutes

With 212,000 hectares planted with coca last year, this illicit crop has stabilized in Colombia, according to information recently published by the White House on the behavior of illicit crops. Compared to 2018, when 208,000 hectares planted with coca were registered, the increase has been of 4,000 hectares. The report highlights that U.S. and Colombian counternarcotics efforts have shown results, since "coca cultivation levels finally stabilized in 2018 and 2019 for the first time since 2012." said Kirsten Madison, undersecretary of the U.S. Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL). 

The Colombian Minister of Defense, Carlos Holmes Trujillo, specifies that these figures refer only to what has been registered up to May 2019, and do not take into account the efforts made by the authorities throughout the year. In his opinion, according to the Police measurement mechanism, in 2019 there was a reduction of about 21,000 hectares and the United Nations measurement is pending, which will be known in June of this year. "We are going to continue working. Spraying will be resumed, having suspended it was a very serious political mistake."said the head of the defense portfolio. The report also showed that potential cocaine production increased by 8 percent, reaching 951 tons in 2019, compared to 879 tons recorded in 2018.
These data can be explained by the maturity of extensive cultivation areas, which no longer yield only one harvest per year, but up to four harvests. This is compounded by the technology used by drug traffickers to increase the productivity of illegal crops. Closing the flow of raw material to the laboratories could have a major impact on productivity. In this sense, Camilo Gonzalez Posso, director of the Institute for Development and Peace Studies (Indepaz), adds that it is necessary to stop persisting "in the mistaken strategy of attacking the small grower without looking at the overall problem of health, macro-criminality, money laundering centers...". In his opinion, giving priority to the strategies agreed upon in the peace agreement for the voluntary substitution of illicit crops and a comprehensive rural reform are the best way to achieve this goal. "a better way". In any case, the challenge of reducing illicit crops and drug production is great, and the United States and Colombia agreed to reduce both coca cultivation and cocaine production by 50 percent by 2023. 

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