Peru Converts Coca-growing Areas into Productive Projects

Peru Converts Coca-growing Areas into Productive Projects

By Dialogo
March 27, 2015






Peruvian authorities plan to invest $47.5 million in 2015 on alternative development projects in areas where illegal coca crops have been eliminated.

The government's goal is to eradicate 35,000 hectares of illegal coca crops this year -- an escalation from 2014's record, when Peruvian law enforcement authorities eliminated 31,205 hectares of illegal crops. They dedicated about 53,000 hectares to alternative crops that year, which are expected to directly benefit about 43,000 families throughout the country.

To put those figures in perspective, just 13,200 hectares were dedicated to harvesting alternative crops in 2011, according to the National Commission for Development and Life Without Drugs (DEVIDA)'s Promotion and Monitoring Director José Chuquipul.

The Military plays a key role in this effort by providing security in regions where farmers have grown illegal coca crops. For example, the Armed Forces of Peru are pacifying the Apurímac, Ene, and Mantaro Rivers Valley (VRAEM), which is the country's main area for coca production; in 2014, they reduced the areas where terrorist groups like the Shining Path operate from 120,000 square kilometers to 5,000 square kilometers.

Legal alternatives provide opportunities for the civilian population


While the Armed Forces work to create a safe environment for farmers to cultivate alternative crops, the government is contributing other forms of aid.

“Technical assistance and training is being provided to the population in order to improve the cultivation and production of these products,” said Luis Rojas Merino, executive secretary of the Multisectoral Commission for the Pacification and Socioeconomic Development of the VRAEM (CODEVRAEM).

Other government institutions are contributing to the effort, said security analyst Roberto Chiabra: for example, Peru's National Customs and Tax Administration (SUNAT), which
is responsible for monitoring the precursor chemicals that illegally enter the coca-growing regions.

“The drug problem requires a comprehensive solution," he said.

That solution, implemented by the Armed Forces and other government agencies, is providing local residents the chance to change their lives.

“The farmers who are currently harvesting coca now have the opportunity to exit this illegal activity with tools for their own development that will improve their quality of life,” Chuquipul said.

The main alternative crop farmers cultivate is cacao, which presently accounts for 38,052 hectares of land; they also grow coffee in 12,801 hectares, and palm oil in 2.74 hectares. Such alternative products generated $250 million of revenue for Peru in 2014.

Preventing the illegal cultivation of coca


These shifts in production have crucially disrupted the cocaine trade in recent years. Peru was listed as the world’s largest producer of coca leaves, with a total of 49,800 hectares under cultivation, in the 2013 Coca Crop Monitoring Report published by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and DEVIDA. But in 2014, the country eliminated 240 metric tons worth of illegal cocaine crops, which would have generated up to $7 billion in sales in the United States and Europe, according to DEVIDA.

“With the coca crop eradication figures that have been achieved in 2014, Peru is no longer the leading producer of the drug, nor the country with the most territory devoted to coca crops,” said Alberto Otárola, DEVIDA’s executive president.

“The negative trend of growth has been broken," said Rubén Vargas, a Peruvian security analyst. "This is the expression of a political decision to not allow an expansion of these crops. It’s a breaking point in the fight against drugs."

Despite their recent victories, however, Peruvian authorities have to remain vigilant, he said: “They still can’t let their guard down. There are new areas that are starting to replant coca crops.”







Peruvian authorities plan to invest $47.5 million in 2015 on alternative development projects in areas where illegal coca crops have been eliminated.

The government's goal is to eradicate 35,000 hectares of illegal coca crops this year -- an escalation from 2014's record, when Peruvian law enforcement authorities eliminated 31,205 hectares of illegal crops. They dedicated about 53,000 hectares to alternative crops that year, which are expected to directly benefit about 43,000 families throughout the country.

To put those figures in perspective, just 13,200 hectares were dedicated to harvesting alternative crops in 2011, according to the National Commission for Development and Life Without Drugs (DEVIDA)'s Promotion and Monitoring Director José Chuquipul.

The Military plays a key role in this effort by providing security in regions where farmers have grown illegal coca crops. For example, the Armed Forces of Peru are pacifying the Apurímac, Ene, and Mantaro Rivers Valley (VRAEM), which is the country's main area for coca production; in 2014, they reduced the areas where terrorist groups like the Shining Path operate from 120,000 square kilometers to 5,000 square kilometers.

Legal alternatives provide opportunities for the civilian population


While the Armed Forces work to create a safe environment for farmers to cultivate alternative crops, the government is contributing other forms of aid.

“Technical assistance and training is being provided to the population in order to improve the cultivation and production of these products,” said Luis Rojas Merino, executive secretary of the Multisectoral Commission for the Pacification and Socioeconomic Development of the VRAEM (CODEVRAEM).

Other government institutions are contributing to the effort, said security analyst Roberto Chiabra: for example, Peru's National Customs and Tax Administration (SUNAT), which
is responsible for monitoring the precursor chemicals that illegally enter the coca-growing regions.

“The drug problem requires a comprehensive solution," he said.

That solution, implemented by the Armed Forces and other government agencies, is providing local residents the chance to change their lives.

“The farmers who are currently harvesting coca now have the opportunity to exit this illegal activity with tools for their own development that will improve their quality of life,” Chuquipul said.

The main alternative crop farmers cultivate is cacao, which presently accounts for 38,052 hectares of land; they also grow coffee in 12,801 hectares, and palm oil in 2.74 hectares. Such alternative products generated $250 million of revenue for Peru in 2014.

Preventing the illegal cultivation of coca


These shifts in production have crucially disrupted the cocaine trade in recent years. Peru was listed as the world’s largest producer of coca leaves, with a total of 49,800 hectares under cultivation, in the 2013 Coca Crop Monitoring Report published by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and DEVIDA. But in 2014, the country eliminated 240 metric tons worth of illegal cocaine crops, which would have generated up to $7 billion in sales in the United States and Europe, according to DEVIDA.

“With the coca crop eradication figures that have been achieved in 2014, Peru is no longer the leading producer of the drug, nor the country with the most territory devoted to coca crops,” said Alberto Otárola, DEVIDA’s executive president.

“The negative trend of growth has been broken," said Rubén Vargas, a Peruvian security analyst. "This is the expression of a political decision to not allow an expansion of these crops. It’s a breaking point in the fight against drugs."

Despite their recent victories, however, Peruvian authorities have to remain vigilant, he said: “They still can’t let their guard down. There are new areas that are starting to replant coca crops.”


Everything that's going on with the country is incredible. I really don't know if this is the webpage my teacher gave me as homework, which I'm supposed to put into English, the author, what happened etc. :) Well, anyway, I am surprised by what's going on now. Thank you it's better than anything else that's happened in this world. The government needs more support and courage I would like to take this opportunity to invite you to reflect on what is happening in Latin America. The truth is that many of the presidents want to take over countries following the Cuban model. That is why they don't attack Venezuela, because they want to do the same thing. The truth is that this is not a sustainable model and they are just doing damage by not allowing their countries to develop. Cool. I had never seen a cocoa tree with fruit that big. nacional I really enjoyed it because I never imagined a cocoa tree was so short. Change is necessary for humanity: cacao instead of coca, what a good decision by the government
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