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Colombian Officials Continue Battling Poppy Farmers in Mountains


June 1993

Colombian acreage devoted to opium poppy cultivation increased 14-fold in the last year, and officials appear to be fighting a losing battle to restrain growth (Mary Speck, "Colombian Officials Battling Poppy Farmers In Mountains: U.S. Says Land Devoted To Cultivation Rose 14-Fold In Last Year," Dallas Morning News, 5/8/93, 44A).

Diversification from coca growing to opium growing allows Colombian farmers to use land not suited for the former to produce another highly valuable cash crop. Poppies can be harvested several times yearly. Colombian antidrug officials are spraying fields with herbicide, but find that farmers return shortly after spraying to plant new seeds in the now weed-free fields. Illicit opium is generally used to produce heroin, although it may be consumed like hashish in unrefined form. Neither U.S. nor Colombian officials know how big Colombia's opium business is, but it still pales in comparison to the nation's cocaine business.