Print version ISSN 0120-9965
BARRIENTOS, Juan Carlos and SCHUG, Walter. The decision of farmers from the tropical region of Cochabamba in Bolivia to cultivate coca instead of state-recommended alternative products. Agron. colomb. [online]. 2006, vol.24, n.1, pp. 147-157. ISSN 0120-9965.
Despite national coca cultivation having been prohibited from 1973 onwards and the rapid reduction of coca plantations up to 2000, coca is still being cultivated in the tropical region of Cochabamba. Technical and economic aspects are responsible for many farmers deciding to continue to cultivate coca and not to cultivate alternative crops. Coca cultivation is technically more adaptable and less demanding than the five alternative crops analysed in this research (pineapples, banana, passion fruit, palm hearts and pepper). These require more input or capital from the producers than cultivating coca as well as more technical experience and skills on their part. In economic terms, the demand for coca leaves exceeds their supply, contrary to that of alternative crops; coca prices therefore tend to increase. This is why coca producers often obtain higher profits from cultivating coca than by cultivating alternative crops. Coca leaves can also be marketed relatively easily compared to alternative products as coca purchasers are less demanding regarding coca leaf quality, their transport is easy and cheap and there is the possibility of quick, guaranteed sales. However, many advantages listed regarding coca cultivation in relation to cultivating alternative crops conflict with coca being prohibited and the fight against its cultivation.
Keywords : alternative crops; agricultural commodities market; agrarian marketing; alternative development; comparing crop profitability.