Program of Substitution of Illicit Crops Officially Takes Off; First Year Goal: 125,000 Acres First Year (S)
The Programa Nacional Integral de Sustitución de Cultivos de Uso Ilícito (National Comprehensive Program of Substitution of Illicit Crops), one of the points agreed in the Havana negotiations, officially started February 3, with the goal of substituting 50,000 hectares (1 hectare 2.4 acres). Under the leadership of the High Council for the post conflict, it will also have the involvement of FARC.
The Government and FARC agreed in Havana to prioritize voluntary substitution [of illicit crops], but also that forced eradication would not be all together eliminated. The peasants oppose this option as well as aerial spraying, which is currently suspended. However, in order to clear the way for these approaches, the government starts from the premisa that not all growers are peasants whose livelihood depends on the coca leaf.
“Coca growers are not just small farmers, there are also narco growers and the government has not renounced to the forced replacement of crops,” [High commissioner for the post conflict Rafael] Pardo said.
In 2015, the last year in which glyphosate was used, 37,199 hectares were sprayed between January and September. The spraying was done in Putumayo, Nariño, Caqueta, Meta and Guaviare. As for manual eradication, that same year, 13,445 hectares of coca crops were eliminated in 25 departments.
But forced eradication is not as viable as it seems. According to Pardo, fumigating one hectare of coca costs about 20 million pesos. The problem is that “for a hectare to stop producing it must be fumigated four or five times. We are facing a program (voluntary substitution) that is much more cost effective because it also ensures the transformation of territory and a new life for people who have been thrown into coca cultivation today,” said the high commissioner. The idea, after all, is to find a definitive solution. For that reason, rather than forced eradication, a voluntary substitution will be sought so that the affected territories become a source of potential for the nation’s economy.” Pacifista