Charles Edison

"Economics, politics, and personalities are often inseparable." - Charles Edison

Friday, January 20, 2012

Colombia's Production Possibilities

Colombia produces 10% of the worlds coffee, making it the 2nd largest coffee producer in the world (beneath Brazil). If you try to imagine how much coffee is consumed by the average person everyday, you will realize how important coffee production really is to the Colombian economy. Keeping this in mind, Colombia also produces 90% of the worlds cocaine. The Colombian coffee industry is at risk because the opportunity costs of production are increasing. Rising temperatures, unpredictable rainfall and the intensive labor that goes along with producing coffee is making it more and more undesirable to farmers. As a result, farmers have begun to abandon coffee and take on the coca plant, which produces cocaine. The popularity of cocaine production is increasing because of the multi-billion dollar cocaine trade between South America up towards Mexico into the United States. Poverty stricken families have either added coca plants to their coffee farms, or switched over to coca all together. As the popularity of cocaine production in Colombia has increased within the years, the US has given money and supplies to destroy coca crops and aid the government in reducing production. The UN has also invested in coffee to reduce the drug trade. Though these factors might stunt the amount produced, coca will continue to be farmed in Columbia because of money that is entailed. Though coffee is and will continue to be the more popular crop, production continues to be shared with the coca plant. This is sad to see knowing that the out-of-control drug trade is inevitable and there will always be a demand for cocaine. Maybe if other countries continue to help, technology can aid in making coffee farming more efficient to increase production. So pick your stimulant- cocaine or coffee?

3 comments:

Smith said...

Your discussion is interesting. If you believe there will always be a demand for cocaine and improvised labor forces willing to switch production from legal to illegal, do you see a viable solution?

Scott said...

This is funny, because it's almost like farmers in Columbia grow coca plants like it's an everyday crop, when in reality it's being used to make a deadly drug. This is almost like how some people say that the biggest cash crop in America right now is marijuana. From what I see, it doesn't look like Columbia is doing a lot to stop the farming of the coca plant, probably because the Columbian government gets money from this too (conspiracy theory). But it would be nice if the UN kept up the work to have coca production stopped, because this would then stop the smuggling of cocaine into America, thus reducing crime rate.

Alex D. said...

First of all, this was an impressive and enthralling read. I’m pleased you decided to bring to our attention the perils & gears of this facet of the international drug market. There needs to be greater awareness about the global drug obsession.

As you said, demand drives the entire system. Cocaine and crack are highly addictive, expensive, and popular: the ultimate product. With street average at approximately $40 per ¼ gram, the distributors can live like kings, while the farmers must work tireless simply to survive. For them, it’s about survival. (To Scott, many of the coca leaf farmers are aware of the psychoactive ingredients within the plant, as they chew the leaves to get slightly buzzed, sort of like tobacco.) Many do not only grow the coca leaves as their sole crop. For a majority of the farmers in Columbia, coca is grown on the side in addition to crops like corn, wheat, marijuana, or other harmless substances. Still, the coca leaf is worth the most, and for the effort and time, is incredible more efficient to grow for the purpose of survival money. Some depend on the harvest to feed their families for the colder seasons. The coca plant is an integral part of the Columbian agrarian economy, and although it plagues nations and peoples with addiction, death, and life destruction, it’s the life product of hundreds of thousands. It’s the bread on their table.

Finally, Scott, I agree with your conspiracy claim that the Columbian government has lent a hand to the drug trade. They are partially to blame, but it’s important to remember that it’s international demand that allows this market to prosper. The sultans of the jungles, kingpins of the south, traffickers, Colombian government officials, and farmers all play a role in this multi-billion dollar business.