UN Report: Columbia Production Of Cocaine At All-Time High In 2016
According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Columbia is producing more cocaine than ever before. In fact, an estimated 866 tonnes were made in Columbian labs in 2016, up from the 649 estimate in 2015.
Indeed, raw coca plants are also back to the same level as 2001, when massive anti-narcotics effort Plan Columbia was in its initial stages. Coca crops filled around 146,000 hectares in 2015, a 52% increase from 96,000 in 2015. Naturally, higher yields from plants tend to equate to increased production of cocaine.
Columbia counter-narcotics police head José Ángel Mendoza stated that the country was facing “a difficult historical moment.”
Since the end of 2016, however, the government has implemented a plan to eliminate 100,000 hectares of coca by the end of 2017 – half of which is to be eradicated forcibly, the other half reduced by crop substitution agreements with farmers.
The substitution program is part of a deal with FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) rebels, an insurgency group that historically financed its rebellion via drug trafficking, but agreed to forego the drug trade as part of a demobilization deal. Former insurgents are said to be to collaborating with the Columbian government to encourage farmers to replace coca crops with alternatives.
According to the government, 40% of the forced eradication goal has already been met, and 86,000 families have agreed to crop substitution programs in exchange for $11,000 in subsidies per farmer over a two year period.
Ironically, however, the crop substitution program, once announced, offered farmers an incentive to grow coca crops, knowing they would receive subsidies later. Production began rising again in 2013 and has climbed at a steady rate ever since. Fumigations by the government were called off in 2014 over health concerns.
A substantial increase in coca crop hectares was already suspected and reported by the White House, which compared to the UN figures may have been greatly underestimated at 700 tonnes in 2016.
~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology