HomeNewsBriefColombia Coca Cultivation Declines in Mining Regions
BRIEF

Colombia Coca Cultivation Declines in Mining Regions

COCA / 26 JUN 2014 BY KYRA GURNEY EN

Total coca cultivation in Colombia remained stable in 2013, though it became more concentrated in certain regions of the country, due in part to a decline in coca crops in areas where criminal groups have turned to informal mining.

According to the most recent United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) report (pdf), a total of 48,189 hectares of coca were cultivated in Colombia last year, compared to 47,790 in 2012. A total of 82 percent of the crop area was concentrated in only six of the 32 departments.

Although the total number of hectares remained roughly constant, cultivation shrunk in most of the departments with coca crops. The largest reduction was in Antioquia, where crop area decreased 64 percent, followed by neighboring Cordoba, Bolivar and Choco.

Meanwhile, cultivation increased significantly in some border departments. Some 56 percent of the country’s cultivition was in the departments of Norte de Santander, which borders Venezuela, and Nariño and Putumayo, which border Ecuador. 

UNODC also highlighted a decrease in aerial fumigation and manual eradication efforts, but applauded alternative development programs for encouraging crop substitution and other economic activities in the most-affected regions.   

InSight Crime Analysis

According to the most recent UNODC figures, Colombia retained its position as the world’s second largest coca producer in 2013, only slightly behind Peru, where a total of 49,800 hectares were grown last year. Bolivia came in third, with 23,000 hectares

Within Colombia, the increased regional concentration of coca production can be attributed to a number of factors, including the growing reliance of criminal groups on alternative sources of income, such as mining. In Antioquia and the surrounding region, criminal groups have shifted their focus to taxing informal mining operations, instead of drug crops. Illegal gold mining has surpassed coca cultivation as the main source of revenue for criminal groups in at least eight departments, including the four with the largest decreases in coca cultivation in 2013. 

Another factor is protests and attacks that impeded eradication efforts in 2013. According to El Tiempo, the increase in coca cultivation in the Venezuelan and Ecuadorian border regions was partly the result of strikes that blocked mobile eradication units. Two fumigation planes were shot down over the course of a few days in September and October 2013 in attacks thought to be carried out by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Coca

Forced eradication will likely decrease further if the government reaches a peace agreement with the FARC. The government has promised to focus on illegal crop substitution programs and encourage voluntary eradication if an agreement is signed, only resorting to forced eradication in extreme circumstances. 

Compartir icon icon icon

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Tags

Related Content

COLOMBIA / 10 JUL 2015

Colombia's prison authorities have moved to "retake" a section of the country's most notorious prison, after reports emerged of the…

COLOMBIA / 13 MAY 2011

Comuna 13 is the most violent neighborhood in the embattled city of Medellin. And with the powerful Urabeños criminal gang…

COLOMBIA / 26 MAY 2014

On May 27, 1964 up to one thousand Colombian soldiers, backed by fighter planes and helicopters, launched an assault against…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Events – Border Crime: The Northern Triangle and Tri-Border Area

ARGENTINA / 25 JAN 2021

Through several rounds of extensive field investigations, our researchers have analyzed and mapped out the main illicit economies and criminal groups present in 39 border departments spread across the six countries of study – the Northern Triangle trio of Guatemala, Honduras, and El…

BRIEF

InSight Crime’s ‘Memo Fantasma’ Investigation Wins Simón Bolívar National Journalism Prize

COLOMBIA / 20 NOV 2020

The staff at InSight Crime was awarded the prestigious Simón Bolívar national journalism prize in Colombia for its two-year investigation into the drug trafficker known as “Memo Fantasma,” which was…

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – From Uncovering Organized Crime to Finding What Works

COLOMBIA / 12 NOV 2020

This project began 10 years ago as an effort to address a problem: the lack of daily coverage, investigative stories and analysis of organized crime in the Americas. …

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – Ten Years of Investigating Organized Crime in the Americas

FEATURED / 2 NOV 2020

In early 2009, Steven Dudley was in Medellín, Colombia. His assignment: speak to a jailed paramilitary leader in the Itagui prison, just south of the city. Following his interview inside…