to Coca Cropl .
Bollviat Obstacle* to Coca Crop Substitution
In an effort to curtail the production of coca and the flow of cocaine, the Bolivian government, withfrom the US, is attempting toarge-acale crop substitution program. Still in the embryonic stage, the program facesnd perhapsobstacles. ,
Coca production has bean an Integral part of the cultural and economic life of Bolivia for hundreds of years; it is ideally suited to the harsh environment1 and rugged terrain of the country. The plant requires virtually no cultivation and can be harvested up to fourear. Although middleman receive most of the profits from coca production, the oampetinoB nonetheless are financially dependent on their earnings from the crop.
Another aspect of the problem concerns theof alternative crops. Sugar, coffee, cotton, certain fruits, and other products have been tentatively suggested, but none are as Inexpensive and easy to grow as coca. Assuming an ideal replacement is found, there is no guaranteed international market.
There is concern that the proposed substitutes are subject to wide price fluctuations. [
'without pricestability the government's crop substitution efforts are likely to fall. The resultant alienation ond loss of political support from thon turn, could adversely affect governmental stability.
One group of oamptiinoa has already voiced opento tho program and Intends to resist theplan. ooperation can be secalred providedirrigation, cooperatives, and other forms of
aaalstance arasoaking an accord
with tha US which would esfUrS atable marketprices for tho replacement
It is unlikely, however, that any price agreement can be reached. If thera to continue the I'J program, they will have toertain amount of l: economic risk, aocial diaruption, and political At bast, crop substitution willong time coming. In the interim, coca production ia likely to continue to increase.
If crop substitution efforts should fail, thefor coca regulation are allm. In many cases,large-scale coca fields are under thethe same Bolivian "intocablas" (untouchables)figures who control ths country's cocaine These individuals have substantialfinancial resources and ara, in effect,i.j i
ir 1! ' *' 'l" 1' il5 t|oreover, neither tho amount of coca undernor the exact location of the fields is presently known, and aerial aurveillance methods have not yot been developed. Unlike Mexico ond Turkey, helicopters cannot be uaed effectively in Bolivia for monitoring or eradica1 tion programa because of the high altitudes involved.