HomeNewsBriefColombia Eradication Levels Plummet Despite Coca Boom
BRIEF

Colombia Eradication Levels Plummet Despite Coca Boom

COCA / 8 NOV 2016 BY MIMI YAGOUB EN

One year after Colombia's decision to halt the aerial fumigation of coca crops, eradication levels have plummeted at the same time that coca production continues to soar, a trend that is sure to strengthen the criminal groups involved in this illicit activity.  

Since Colombia stopped using one of its main coca eradication methods -- the aerial fumigation of crops using the herbicide glyphosate -- the government has uprooted a far smaller amount of coca, according to government statistics published by the Justice Ministry's Drugs Observatory. Colombia suspended aerial fumigation operations in October 2015 due to public health concerns.

Between January and September 2016, manual eradicators removed 13,565 hectares (ha) of coca in the country. Last year, manual eradication totaled 13,473 ha, while aerial spraying destroyed 36,494 ha.

For 2016, the Defense Ministry has set an eradication target of 20,000 ha -- an area similar in size to total coca cultivation in Putumayo department alone.

The number of hectares eradicated manually has been falling since a peak of nearly 100,000 ha in 2008, according to government figures.

At the same time, coca growing has doubled from 48,000 ha in 2013 to 96,000 ha in 2015, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). A UNODC representative has previously told InSight Crime this pattern is likely to continue this year.

InSight Crime Analysis

Colombia's eradication ambitions are surprisingly low given the country's recent explosion in coca crops. In comparison, neighboring Peru has already eradicated over 22,000 ha in 2016, despite having less than half of the amount of coca as Colombia.

Colombia is redesigning its anti-narcotics strategy to target cocaine production and trafficking rather than the lower rungs of the illicit drug trade. This shift has been attributed in part to the difficulties and dangers of manual eradication efforts, which have been hindered by hundreds of blockades by coca farmers.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Coca

The government is nonetheless taking steps to address the relatively small amount of coca that it's eradicating. Beginning in 2017, police will use aircraft to monitor coca cultivation in real time rather than relying on the previous year's data, El Tiempo reported. But without an effective eradication strategy, this measure is unlikely to have a major impact.

This trend is sure to keep the criminal groups involved in coca production well-financed for the foreseeable future. For now, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia - FARC) guerrilla organization control an estimated 70 percent of crops, but the lion's share may be transferred over to other groups should the rebels demobilize as part of an eventual peace deal. If the rebels do not demobilize, they will be well-positioned to reap the financial benefits of the ongoing coca surge. 

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

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.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

COCA / 6 OCT 2017

A protest by farmers in Colombia against government eradication of coca crops left several civilians dead and wounded. But conflicting…

COLOMBIA / 8 NOV 2017

Warnings that Colombia's bilateral ceasefire with the ELN guerrilla group could crumble because of violence in a criminal hotbed could…

COLOMBIA / 13 NOV 2013

Homicides in Medellin, Colombia were down over 60 percent in October compared to the same month last year, a decrease…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Tackles Illegal Fishing

15 OCT 2021

In October, InSight Crime and American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS) began a year-long project on illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing in…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Featured in Handbook for Reporting on Organized Crime

8 OCT 2021

In late September, the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) published an excerpt of its forthcoming guide on reporting organized crime in Indonesia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Probing Organized Crime in Haiti

1 OCT 2021

InSight Crime has made it a priority to investigate organized crime in Haiti, where an impotent state is reeling after the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, coupled with an…

THE ORGANIZATION

Emergency First Aid in Hostile Environments

24 SEP 2021

At InSight Crime's annual treat, we ramped up hostile environment and emergency first aid training for our 40-member staff, many of whom conduct on-the-ground investigations in dangerous corners of the region.

THE ORGANIZATION

Series on Environmental Crime in the Amazon Generates Headlines

17 SEP 2021

InSight Crime and the Igarapé Institute have been delighted at the response to our joint investigation into environmental crimes in the Colombian Amazon. Coverage of our chapters dedicated to illegal mining…