Colombia’s Ministry of Justice recognized on Thursday a “substantial reduction” in manual illicit crop eradication compared to previous years.
With only 44 days left on the year, manual eradication of coca has not yet exceeded 67,000 acres, which represents less than 70% of the government’s objective of about 100,000 acres, according to Colombia’s Mobile Eradication Groups (GME).
Eradication figures have been plummeting since 2008 when the GME uprooted 237,503 acres of coca. In 2009, there was a lack of money to pay farmers involved in the plucking for several months, which resulted in the halting of the Program Against Illicit Crops.
“There were several months without eradicating, but it is not a political decision to reduce illicit crop eradication,” said Justice Minister Juan Carlos Esguerra.
The program, the ministry, and the police have all attributed the decline in eradication as a result of fewer coca crops being cultivated.
Another explanation is that Colombia’s rainy season has prevented entry into many coca growing areas, and it is difficult to do clearance work, which is required to ensure access for the eradicators to perform their duties.
General Luis Alberto Perez, the director of the Narcotics Police, has also announced that Colombia made an agreement with Peru to eradicate coca crops along their borders.