New statistics suggest that Bolivia is successfully reducing the number of its farmers who make a living off growing coca plants which, when processed, are the essential ingredient in cocaine. According to the United Nations, of the major coca producers—Bolivia, Columbia and Peru—only Bolivia reduced its coca cultivation in 2011. “That year, the total number of hectares of coca grown fell 12 percent to 27,200 (67,212 acres) in Bolivia. In Peru it grew 5.2 percent to 64,900 (160,371 acres) and in Colombia it went up by 3 percent to 64,000 (158,147 acres).”
What’s the Big Idea?
Bolivia is at odds with America’s approach to fighting the drug war in countries where coca is cultivated. In fact, Bolivia kicked out the US Drug Enforcement Administration in 2008. Under President Evo Morales, Bolivia has engaged farmers and encouraged them to cultivate other, less problematic crops like coffee. Morales’ government “proudly cites how farmers in the Yungas—the lush, hilly region where the Andes and Amazon meet—are now producing premium coffee for the first time. That improvement in quality has enabled them to raise the price for a 110-pound sack of beans from around $30 to more than $100.”