Colombian farmer and his nursery of plants for silvopastoral systems in Cartagena del Cgairá, Caquetá.


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Coca farmers in rural areas are often affected by poverty and a lack of access to legal markets. Furthermore, in Colombia, illicit coca crops cause widespread deforestation. Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH is carrying out pilot projects in drug cultivation regions in Colombia to counter deforestation and promote sustainable development for the people living in these areas.

In Colombia, coca plants were grown on around 171,000 hectares in 2017. While the drug economy is rich in profits for high-level traders, the farmers growing the illicit crops often live in poverty in remote, marginalised rural areas. Often there is no alternative to the drug economy for coca farmers because they lack access to markets for legal products, rendering them dependent on the illicit market. 

Despite the socio-economic consequences, the drug economy in Colombia also heavily affects the environment: Illicit coca cultivation is one of the causes of deforestation of natural rainforests in Colombia. Around 220,000 hectares of forest were cleared in 2017 alone, 65 per cent of which in the Amazon region.

Reducing deforestation and promoting sustainable alternatives to coca crops

Since 2016, REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries) and the GIZ Global Partnership for Drug Policy and Development (GPDPD) have jointly carried out five pilot projects in the Colombian Amazon region (in Putumayo, Caquetá, Guaviare and Meta), two of them in close co-operation with the country office of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

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