Bulletin on Narcotics

Volume LI, Nos. 1 and 2, 1999

Occasional papers

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Alternative development: the modern thrust of supply-side policy *

Specialist in alternative development, currently working for the United Nations International Drug Control Programme

The opium poppy and the coca bush: their cultivation and characteristics
Alternative development
    The concept
    The context
    The results
Household drug crop cultivation
Returns on land or labour?
The role of credit, debt and village traders
Eradication, reverse conditionality and the relocation of production


Alternative development is closely associated with reductions in drug crop cultivation at the local level. At present, local successes in such reductions cannot be directly attributed to alternative development interventions because the motivations and circumstances that determine household drug crop cultivation remain largely unexplored. Research has tended to focus on aggregate trends in drug crop cultivation at the national, regional and village levels. The specific socio-economic, cultural and environmental circumstances that influence household production are consequently overlooked in project design. Rather, alternative development initiatives have adopted a uniform approach where emphasis is placed on the high economic returns that the opium poppy and the coca bush are reported to accrue per unit of land.

The present article rejects such a uni-causal explanation of drug crop cultivation, founded as it is on the assumption that drug crop producers are a homogenous group. Instead, an insight is offered into the diverse factors influencing household drug crop cultivation that are currently neglected, including returns on labour, access to credit and land, and the effect of law enforcement and conditionality. The article indicates that the failure to recognize the dynamics of household decision-making has implications for the cost-effectiveness of the current strategy and raises questions concerning the unintended consequences of alternative development. Its impact on the poor and the process of relocation is a particular focus. In addition, the article illustrates that greater attention needs to be given to the timing and interface between law enforcement initiatives and alternative development interventions.

The paper concludes that a greater understanding of the multi-functional role which drug crops play in the socio-economy of the household would assist in determining more effective and sustainable initiatives aimed at reducing both existing and potential drug crop cultivation. It is suggested that the overall success of supply-side interventions will be contingent on reductions in demand both internationally and, increasingly, in source countries.

The opium poppy and the coca bush: their cultivation and characteristics

The opium poppy and the coca bush represent efficient cash crops that are well suited to the harsh conditions of source areas. Opium poppies will grow with little difficulty in conditions unsuitable for most other crops, cultivated on either irrigated or unirrigated land and at altitudes of up to 3,000 metres. Households are also able to choose from a variety of climates that are available to them in the mountainous areas of opium poppy cultivation. Consequently, planting dates and the altitude of cultivation vary in response to changing weather conditions, methods adopted to reduce risk 1 and techniques used to obtain higher yields.

The coca bush also shows resilience in a marginal environment. It is able to grow in a variety of altitudinal, climatic and soil conditions. It can tolerate acidic soils and shows a resistance to pests and diseases. The use of pesticides and fertilizers is therefore limited, making the coca bush a popular crop in the economically and environmentally fragile areas of the Andes. 2 It is a perennial that matures in only 18 months and can be harvested 4-6 times per annum for up to 40 years, although productivity begins to dwindle after 15 years. The labour-intensive nature of harvesting means that coca bush not only provides a livelihood for the producer but has also given those on the altiplano a consistent source of employment [3].

Both the opium poppy and the coca bush are low-capital input, high-yield crops that produce non-perishable, high value-to-weight products. The durability of the opium poppy means that households can choose to speculate if market prices are deemed too low. The opium poppy also produces a number of by-products with both a high use and exchange value. With many areas of cultivation lacking adequate infrastructure, the high value-to-weight ratio of coca leaves and opium makes the transportation of relatively small amounts either on foot or by mule a profitable endeavour. Most importantly, growers have almost guaranteed markets and access to credit and seeds from some traders. As Brailsford [4] points out, cultivation of the opium poppy would be an ideal solution in, for example, Badakhshan Province, in Afghanistan, were it not for the undesirability of the end product. Furthermore, aid agencies would probably be promoting its cultivation and introducing improved methods of production.

The extent of opium poppy and coca bush cultivation informs policy makers of resource priorities and the effectiveness of current supply-side strategies [5]. However, reliable estimates of illicit drug production have been difficult to obtain owing to the political and geographical inaccessibility of source areas. Inadequate data on the levels of opium poppy and coca bush cultivation, yields, alkaloid content, harvesting efficiency and conversion factors have resulted in a wide disparity in the measurement of cocaine and heroin manufacture worldwide. For instance, opium production figures recorded in the "Afghanistan opium poppy survey" undertaken by the United Nations International Drug Control Programme [1], have consistently differed from estimates issued by the Government of the United States of America, sometimes by as much as 100 per cent.

It is important to recognize that, even with consensus on the extent of drug crop cultivation in any given source country, there is a need to develop a greater understanding of the complexity of implementing alternative development interventions in source areas, and what such interventions can realistically hope to achieve, given the growing demand for illicit drugs and the continuing prevalence of rural underdevelopment.

Alternative development

The concept

Alternative development has sought to create the economic and social environment in which households can attain an acceptable standard of living, without the need for drug crop cultivation. The approach has varied greatly between regions and donors. One of the main protagonists of alternative development has been the Government of Bolivia, which has sought to capitalize on the image of drug crop cultivation as a source of development in order to negotiate greater overseas assistance [6]. The semantics of alternative development has also proved popular with some donors who have justified the contravention of conventional development criteria and best practice under the guise of alternative development initiatives. 3

The concept of alternative development emerged from the failure of the crop substitution initiatives of the 1970s and the integrated rural development approach of the 1980s. In the 1970s, crop substitution projects successfully identified alternative crops but failed to alter the market and infrastructural constraints that households faced in traditional areas of drug crop cultivation. The broader, integrated rural development approach of the 1980s sought to redress the emphasis on replacing income by promoting the integration of traditional areas of cultivation into the economic and social mainstream. The approach consolidated crop-substitution initiatives with food-for-work schemes, income-generation opportunities, infrastructural projects to improve access to markets and social development initiatives aimed at improving education, health and access to safe drinking water and sanitation.

In the late 1980s, however, the relocation of drug crop production from traditional areas to new areas of cultivation prompted a further reappraisal of drug control. The result was a broader strategy of alternative development that has sought to integrate regional development assistance with law enforcement initiatives [6, 9, 10]. At the core of alternative development is a recognition that drug crop cultivation is interwoven with numerous other issues which go well beyond the microeconomics and agronomy of coca bush and opium poppy cultivation. 4

More recently, a wide range of initiatives has been adopted in an attempt to integrate drug control into national development plans [11]. The broader strategy has sought to revive and expand the legal sectors of the economy and provide a framework for sound economic policies to generate demand for diversified economic growth and job creation nationwide [12]. In 1991, the United States Agency for International Development allocated a significant proportion of project resources to the highland valleys in Bolivia, in an attempt to generate alternative sources of income and employment and deter migration to the Chapare, 5 as well as significant monetary aid in the form of economic support funds to assist the Government of Bolivia in its programme of economic reform. 6
Some analysts have suggested that there is a fundamental contradiction between microlevel initiatives, which aim to integrate source areas into the State through crop substitution, law enforcement and infrastructural efforts, and macroeconomic policies that seek to create sound economic policies through reducing government expenditure and removing market imperfections [13]. It seems counter-intuitive to suggest that the removal of agricultural subsidies and the imposition of severe budget constraints, under the auspices of the structural adjustment policies of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, have assisted Governments of source nations in their efforts to increase agricultural incomes and improve the socio-economic, political and legal environment in which licit income-earning opportunities might flourish. In response to such criticism, the Government of the United States and the European Union have offered trade preferences, debt relief and financial assistance to source countries in an attempt to create diversified and sustainable economies with viable alternatives to drug crop cultivation and processing. In the current lexicon of the Government of the United States, all such initiatives qualify as "alternative development" interventions.

The context

In practice, alternative development initiatives have worked on the assumption that reductions in opium poppy and coca bush cultivation are conditional on the general social and economic development of source areas and the integration of such areas into the State [14, 15, 16, 17]. As such, the elimination of drug crop cultivation is often a positive externality of the process of enhancing food security, increasing household incomes and improving the quality of life [16].

Evidence suggests that coca leaf and opium production are a function of marginal socio-economic and ecological conditions [18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23]. Hurd and Masty's study of Nangarhar, in Afghanistan, indicated that opium production tended to concentrate in the poorest areas [20]. The size of landholding, access to irrigation and population density were seen as important determinants in the extent of opium poppy cultivation. Potulski's research supports that claim, suggesting that source areas in south, south-east Asia and Latin America typically suffer from a lack of land, reliable water supply and food, making them some of the most agriculturally underdeveloped areas of the world [19, 24].

Project baseline studies also indicate that source areas are characteristically poor. In both Buner and the eastern Dir Valley, in Pakistan, for example, the average per capita income was half the national average prior to project implementation [25, 26, 27, 28]. Infrastructure, access to safe drinking water and the provision of government health and social services are often limited or non-existent. Indicators of malnutrition, infant mortality and illiteracy have proved to be consistently and substantially higher than national averages [16, 29, 30, 31]. In the Dir region, in Pakistan, for example, 25 per cent of men and 2 per cent of women were considered literate. Another example is that of Xieng Khouang, in the Lao People's Democratic Republic, where infant and child mortality is thought to range from 50 per cent to 75 per cent [15, 17].

Typically, over 90 per cent of households in source areas have been found to be entirely dependent on agriculture for their livelihood; off-farm income opportunities are very limited [29]. The farming sector itself has proved structurally weak, however, with poor marketing, small landholdings, an absence of credit facilities and a lack of irrigation. Environmental degradation, low-quality inputs and poor agronomic practices have led to extremely low yields, resulting in food deficits of between two and seven months [4, 16, 23, 29, 32, 33, 34, 35]. Such a loss of direct entitlement has led to a greater reliance on opium poppy and coca bush crops as a means of securing subsistence [32, 36, 37]. For many households in source areas, drug crops generate the greatest proportion of household annual income, a significant proportion of which is used to purchase food for consumption [19, 38, 39, 40]. As suggested by Dalibor [41], most inhabitants are destitute farmers who practise shifting cultivation and rely on opium poppy cultivation as a means of supplementing meagre incomes to cope with chronic food deficits in food production. In addition, Dalibor claims that there is no evidence that farmers are earning more than basic subsistence incomes even with their returns from growing opium poppy. As a result, households are trapped permanently in debt.

Despite the rhetoric, there is little evidence that the so-called lucrative trade in drug crops has led to economic and social development in source areas. In this context, drug crop cultivation can be seen as part of a wider survival strategy aimed at guaranteeing food security. As such, a minimum level of coca bush and opium poppy cultivation is integral to the livelihood strategies of poor households, allowing them a guaranteed level of cash income to satisfy basic needs [21, 40]. Consequently, many commentators have suggested that development assistance is justified for such areas, simply on the basis of the prevailing level of poverty and the incidence of food insecurity [23].

The results

Alternative development through the introduction of substitute crops and diversified cropping patterns has disproved the myth that coca bush and opium poppy crops offer the highest returns to small farmers [19, 24, 39, 42, 43]. Substitution efforts in northern Thailand have illustrated that annual profits per square metre can be increased by over 50 times by replacing opium poppy with flowers [42]. In the Chapare, earnings from rubber have been found to reach four times the value of coca bush per hectare [39]. In Buner, in Pakistan, household incomes were more than doubled through development efforts between 1976 and 1991: opium poppy cultivation had been all but eliminated since 1983 [39]. Moreover, the success in Thailand in reducing the level of opium production has proved what development efforts can achieve where decades of coercion have failed [44]. The current level of production is half that of 1984 and only a quarter of that of the mid-1960s. 7

The success of the programme of alternative development in Thailand, considered one of the most effective in the world [47], has been attributed to the broad development framework in which it operates. The approach has encapsulated a wide array of efforts aimed at enhancing food security, promoting alternative sources of income and increasing government services in the highland areas. It has been supported by initiatives aimed at involving target communities to help identify community problems and priorities, and in planning and implementing development interventions [38].

Although law enforcement is said to have played a significant part in the reduction in opium poppy cultivation in Thailand, a pragmatic approach has also been adopted. Eradication has generally only been undertaken at the point when alternative sources of income exist. 8 As such, eradication is viewed in terms of negotiated law enforcement, based on the provision of basic needs. The findings of a report undertaken by the United Nations International Drug Control Programme indicated that such a participatory and contractual approach to the population represented a major element in ensuring viability and sustainability [9]. The authorities have also distinguished between commercial cultivation and local consumption, conceding a level of household production [29, 47]. Such an approach allows that, if opium poppy cultivation were to be abandoned as a source of income, there would be medical, social and cultural reasons for continuing household cultivation on a small scale [32]. Moreover, significant emphasis has been placed on keeping law enforcement activities distinct from the development programme [38].

Despite the achievements in Thailand, the success of alternative development has been limited for the most part to reducing drug crop cultivation at the local level. Substantial and sustained reductions have not been achieved. In most source areas, production continues to outstrip eradication. Moreover, the long-term nature of the initiatives in Thailand and the country's relative prosperity raise serious questions about the specific role that alternative development has played in that success. It remains to be seen whether it is a replicable model for countries such as Afghanistan and the Lao People's Democratic Republic, where off-farm income opportunities are extremely limited at present.

Studies of the distribution of project benefits have revealed that relatively wealthy households have often benefited disproportionately from project activities [15, 26, 48, 49, 50]. Such households are located in more accessible regions and often tend to be less reliant on drug crop cultivation [16, 38, 51]. Although the poorest are recognized as an important focus group, the general thrust of alternative development does not specify that they should be given priority. The evidence, therefore, tends to conflict with the assertion that drug crop cultivation is a function of the prevailing poverty that exists in source areas. 9 It also raises questions about the impact of such interventions on the poorer farmers, whose livelihoods are reportedly most dependent on drug crop cultivation. This is of particular relevance in Buner and Gadoon Amazai, also in Pakistan, which used to provide a ready source of itinerant opium poppy harvesters for Dir during the period in which opium poppy was cultivated there. In both Buner and Gadoon Amazai, cultivation still takes place on a small scale 10 years after the implementation of alternative development initiatives. 10 Moreover, evidence has suggested that reductions in coca bush cultivation in the Chapare, in Bolivia, have been accompanied by a deterioration in the general health and diet of the population, resulting in an increase in the incidence and intensity of malnutrition [31].

Little detail is available with regard to the impact of alternative development on the environment of source areas. 11 Permanent settlement, sedentary agriculture and improvements in land use, crop yields and soil conservation are, on the whole, regarded as beneficial. However, most of the alternative crops identified have required considerably larger growing areas, resulting in an expansion of the area under annual plantation. More intensive farming systems have led to the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Such systems also have long-term consequences for soil fertility and the pollution of the watershed [50]. Road access has increased commercial interests, such as tourism and agro-industry, and has facilitated illegal lumbering, all with concomitant effects on the environment [52]. Relocation of production has led to further deforestation in inaccessible areas. The balance between positive and negative impacts has not yet been quantified.

Implementation through government agencies has proved to be important in ensuring the sustainability of alternative development interventions. However, the capacity of recipient communities to manage their own resources and implement initiatives is currently limited, even in Thailand after almost 30 years of assistance [50]. Although village institutions and, more recently, community-level focus groups have been encouraged as a means of facilitating the participation of local communities, emphasis has generally been given to consultation and technical transfer rather than local capacity-building [30, 38]. 12

In practice, community development and participation have often been treated as separate components with independent activities, rather than as integral aspects of the project process. The needs and priorities of recipients and the disparate factors that influence household drug crop cultivation have not been adequately accounted for in the project design. Labour and land constraints, access to credit and the role that ecological degradation and law enforcement initiatives have played in household decision-making have been largely ignored in favour of a uniform approach, where emphasis is placed on the high economic returns that opium poppy and coca bush are reported to accrue per unit of land.

Household drug crop cultivation

Population density, diminishing landholdings and environmental degradation

The correlation between the size of landholdings and the proportion of land dedicated to drug crops is evident. Where household access to land is limited, both coca bush and opium poppy have been found to be extensively grown [28]. In Swabi, in Pakistan, the greatest proportion of land dedicated to opium poppy cultivation was found to be where average household landholdings were less than 0.75 of a hectare [43]. Similarly, in Achin, in Afghanistan, where mean household landholdings were less than 0.5 hectare, 65 per cent of cultivated land was dedicated to poppy cultivation [20]. That contrasts sharply with the situation in Sukhurd, in Afghanistan, where the farmland was considered rich, where crop yields were high and population density low, and where only 10 per cent of cultivated land was dedicated to poppy.

In the Chapare, in Bolivia, the amount of land dedicated to coca bush as a percentage of total farm area varied considerably. Although almost every household was found to grow a minimum amount, those with the least land were found to cultivate the largest proportion of their land with coca bush [21]. The smallest landholdings, of 2-3 hectares of tillable land, were in the "Zona Roja", where coca bush predominates [53]. Households with access to over 5 hectares of perennial crops, such as citrus, coffee, bananas or cocoa, rarely grew coca bush [54].

The relationship between land and drug crop cultivation has often been explained in terms of increasing population densities. Such increases are a common feature of source areas in south-west and south-east Asia; 13 they have also prompted migration from the highlands of Bolivia 14 and Peru to the coca leaf producing regions of the Chapare 15 and Upper Huallaga Valley. Restrictions on land use, immigration and increasing population pressure have reduced the availability of land 16 in those areas. The result has been a reduction in the size of landholdings and reduced fallow periods, leading to losses in soil fertility and diminishing yields [16, 56, 61, 62]. Both coca bush and opium poppy can be grown on the same plot for up to 15 years, considerably longer than traditional agricultural alternatives that satisfy the demanding requirements of households with limited access to land and modern inputs [15, 26, 32, 52, 60, 63, 64, 65, 66]. Within the context of increasing ecological degradation, drug crop cultivation can be seen as a survival strategy by which resource-poor farmers have mitigated the impact that population pressure [67] has placed on already limited resources.

The common response of alternative development to the problem of diminishing landholdings has been to encourage off-farm income opportunities and intensify agricultural production. Initiatives aimed at increasing off-farm income opportunities have included the encouragement of value-added activities and the provision of vocational training to improve employment prospects elsewhere. Regardless of the merits and limitations of each approach, the objective has been to increase the returns on labour. 17

The intensification of agricultural production, however, has sought to increase both returns on land and labour. The introduction of higher-yielding varieties of seed, irrigation and improved agronomic practices have proved particularly successful in increasing the production of traditional crops and reducing food deficits in source areas. 18 However, many of the improved agricultural practices suggested for alternative cash crops have increased the demand on labour [50]. Without a thorough understanding of existing and potential labour resources and requirements, intensification may have increased agricultural yields of land while reducing the returns on labour. Such a strategy has failed to acknowledge the extent of opium poppy and coca bush cultivation on small holdings, explained as much in terms of labour constraints as of land scarcity.

Returns on land or labour?

Much of the discussion regarding the profitability of drug crops centres on returns on land, rather than labour. It is not clear, however, that land is the limiting factor for many drug crop producers. 19 Despite their suitability to the local environment, experience has shown that opium poppy and coca bush are rarely monocropped. 20

In the Chapare, in Bolivia, very few households were found to grow in excess of 1.5 hectares of coca bush despite considerable variations in the size of landholdings. Of those who eradicated their coca bush crops in the Upper Huallaga Valley, in Peru, 76 per cent of households were found to have less than 2 hectares, regardless of their access to land [21]. In contrast, households in Turkey had on average access to 5 hectares of cultivable land and a ceiling of 0.5 hectare of opium poppy was grown [70]. Very few households have been found to dedicate more than 60 per cent of their cultivable land to opium poppy and coca bush, implying that such crops are generally grown as part of a wider cropping pattern aimed at self-sufficiency. 21 This tends to counter the belief that drug crops are grown purely for their high returns to land [6, 20, 21, 71].

In relation to other crops, 22 the labour requirements for both coca bush and opium poppy cultivation are considerable. Production techniques and the demand on labour vary substantially, however, according to the intentions and resources of the household. When drug crop prices are high, intensive cultivation is profitable, resulting in greater use of hired labour and modern inputs if they can be obtained. Low prices will not necessarily be reflected in reductions in drug crop cultivation. Simpler production methods may be employed, making greater use of family labour. Once coca bush is established, for example, unremunerated family labour is used to a considerable extent in its upkeep and harvesting. With little value attributed to that source of labour, both coca bush and opium poppy can make an important contribution to household income, even where prices are below theoretical costs of production [21, 75].

Consequently, comparisons that have focused on net returns on land may have proved misleading. Although net returns per hectare will often be more profitable for drug crops than licit alternatives owing to labour-intensive production, net returns on labour may be much lower owing to the substantial labour requirements of coca bush and opium poppy cultivation [76]. Some commentators have suggested that without the extensive use of unremunerated family labour, neither opium poppy nor coca bush would be profitable crops [21, 23]. Such a view is supported by the general reluctance of households to hire labour throughout the season despite it maximizing drug crop cultivation [66, 77]. 23 This suggests that after deductions for hired labour, returns are not necessarily as remunerative as other crops. In Afghanistan, it has been claimed that rising labour costs in the crop season 1994/1995 were responsible in part for the decline in opium production [10, 23]. 24

In an attempt to minimize labour costs, households have adopted a variety of strategies. The primary emphasis of resource-poor households has been to limit household production to a level that is commensurate with the availability of family labour [28, 36, 63, 69]. Staggered planting has also served both to reduce the threat of crop failure and to spread the demands on family labour and reciprocal labour arrangements, minimizing the need for hired labour [63, 64]. For some households, the ability to negotiate particularly favourable sharecropping arrangements 25 and the availability of addict labourers 26 has prompted more intensive opium production.

Securing access to unremunerated or cheap labour has had important ramifications for the socio-economic position of the household and its members. A major determinant of socio-economic differentiation was found to be the amount of harvested opium poppy that could be sold rather than used for wages or household consumption among the Lahu [60]. An emphasis on family labour has resulted in particularly low levels of literacy among the Hmong of the Lao People's Democratic Republic and the opium poppy growers of Dir, in Pakistan [67, 81]. Moreover, licit agricultural production has been constrained by the high rural labour costs arising from the seasonal demands of both coca leaf and opium [35].

A better understanding on the part of policy makers of the labour and land constraints that households face would assist in the design of more appropriate interventions. Policy makers need to be better informed about the economic returns of land and labour on drug crops and their alternatives, the allocation of labour among different farm activities and the gender division of labour. 27 Where labour is a constraining factor, greater emphasis needs to be given to increasing labour productivity rather than increasing the yields of the land. A change in emphasis of that kind would have an impact on drug crop cultivation and wider implications for family labour, releasing it to undertake other activities. Such a strategy would be particularly important for rural women, who have been largely ignored as decision makers within the household and generators of value and income in the production of both coca leaf and opium poppy [22, 82]. 28

The role of credit, debt and village traders

The cultivation of opium poppy seems to be intrinsically linked with informal rural credit in source areas, where opium poppy cultivators gain preferential if not sole access to informal credit arrangements [28, 43, 83]. The prevalence of household food deficits and the illicit nature of the opium trade, however, expose the most vulnerable to exploitation from village traders. Through the provision of consumer goods, the extension of credit and the offer of a ready outlet for opium, village traders gain a significant influence over household finances and thereby over household decisions with regard to crop production priorities [60, 73]. Because of this, the level of existing and expected household debt becomes an important determinant of the extent of annual household opium production.

In the Dir region, in Pakistan, the end of the winter is a time of particularly heavy borrowing. Dwindling cash reserves need to be supplemented with credit to satisfy subsistence requirements and purchase agricultural inputs in preparation for the new agricultural season [48, 67]. To gain access to such goods, households can either exchange surplus opium poppy from the previous year's harvest or obtain credit in cash or goods from the village shopkeeper, on the understanding that repayment will be made in opium [26, 48, 67, 68].

Similar methods of credit and repayment operate through Chinese Haw traders in Thailand and in the Lao People's Democratic Republic, many of whom are former caravaneers who have settled in highland villages [63]. The profits on trade are substantial, with the price of consumer goods 50-100 per cent higher than the lowland price. Repayment in opium is often 100 per cent higher than the value of the cash or goods originally lent and is often as much as 50 per cent of the total harvest [60].

The growing dependence on opium poppy as the sole source of cash income has meant that households have become particularly vulnerable to its fluctuating price. The occurrence of dramatic falls in price has prompted many households to increase their level of borrowing in order to meet their household expenditures [28]. Continued shortfalls in food production and the offer of credit have led many households to run up substantial debts. The result is often a spiral of debt that forces households to sell their opium poppy crop at particularly low prices to local traders [28, 52, 85]. Poorer households in Afghanistan, for example, have been found to sell their entire opium crop two or three months prior to harvesting at 20-30 per cent less than the harvest price [23, 72, 86]. The real gains for the trader are realized post-harvest, when prices can increase by as much as 100 per cent within two months [79].

Evidence suggests that both opium and coca leaf prices are often highly localized, depending on the market power that local buyers exert. The dominant market position that local shopkeepers and traders gain through the provision of credit and consumer goods is exacerbated by the illicit nature of the market for opium. Despite their dissatisfaction with local prices, many opium poppy cultivators will deal with village traders rather than risk arrest in the lowlands. 29 Producers, unable to look for alternative buyers for their opium, owing to debt repayments and the illicit nature of the industry, find their bargaining position severely weakened, in particular in the most inaccessible areas where the lowest prices are paid [26, 28, 60]. Consequently, the relationship between creditor (buyer) and debtor (producer) is potentially exploitative [34].

Within this context, households may be willing to adopt alternative crops even if they do not offer returns that are as remunerative as opium poppy and coca bush. There is considerable evidence to suggest that households will reduce drug crop cultivation in exchange for appropriate technical and financial support, and to escape repressive measures by both the State and traders. However, many are unable to forego the cash income derived from opium and coca leaf while they wait for profitable alternative production regimes to be developed and made available to them [61]. Opium provides a means of obtaining credit during times of food scarcity. Alternative development initiatives need to generate secure alternative income sources before opium poppy cultivation will be eliminated by poorer households [26, 48]. 30 Greater attention needs to be given to supplementing such a means of credit, if households are to be able to meet their subsistence needs, pay off their existing debts and risk planting alternative crops [33, 83]. Moreover, law enforcement initiatives aimed at village traders could prove very effective in simultaneously disrupting both the extension agents and farmgate purchasers of opium.

Eradication, reverse conditionality and the relocation of production

The role of law enforcement in prompting changes in household agricultural practice is contentious. Some commentators have indicated that eradication is a prerequisite to creating the necessary conditions for successful alternative development [88]. Others have suggested that there are inherent contradictions between development and interdiction at both the policy and the operational levels and that the effects of this include impeded progress and increased vulnerability of the poorest [75]. As a result, the debate regarding the appropriate balance of carrot and stick remains one of the most intractable of alternative development, in particular as it concerns the process of relocation.

It has been argued that individual and moral orientations toward drugs and the drug trade affect household decision-making. Many households either will not entertain the possibility of growing opium poppy or coca bush, or are simply too afraid to produce drug crops owing to the social and legal condemnation they will endure. However, the concentration of opium poppy and coca bush cultivation in specific areas has led many to believe that there is a cultural 31 and economic consensus among local inhabitants with regard to the legitimacy of drug crop production [20, 79].

Alternative development has recognized the consensual framework and sought to implement social and economic change aimed at reducing the acceptability of drug crop cultivation. Teachers, elders and religious representatives have been targeted to act as local agents of change in the process. Law enforcement has served to indicate that drug crop cultivation is not only unacceptable but illegal. It has also sought to induce fluctuations in farmgate prices through the disruption of processing operations and supply lines [75].

The dramatic fall in coca leaf prices in 1989 is believed to be attributable to the concerted attacks of the Government of Colombia on the Medellín cartel. More recently, coca leaf prices in Peru have fallen by almost one third after the capture of many of the leading members of the Cali cartel [89]. However, aggregate changes in the level of coca bush cultivation show little variance in response to widely fluctuating prices [90]. Opium poppy cultivation has proved relatively unresponsive to declining prices once they have fallen below a given level [91]. This suggests that the lack of alternative sources of income and expectations of future price increases will induce many households to continue to cultivate opium poppy and coca bush, albeit to a lesser extent. Some households, however, have responded to falling coca leaf prices by undertaking basic processing, transcending existing cultural mores and participating in illegal activities [10]. 32 Law enforcement can succeed in reducing cultivation at the margins but if alternative livelihoods are not available, such success may be achieved at the cost of social and political unrest.

Experience has shown that where eradication has been a precondition to assistance, farmers have opted to eradicate only some of their crop. In the Chapare, Bolivia, households were found to retain 0.5 hectare of a total 2 hectares cultivated as an insurance against vulnerability. Complete eradication would only be considered once farmers were assured of viable alternatives [53].

Where complete eradication has been enforced without the prior provision of alternative sources of income, it has had dramatic consequences for rural populations. 33 In the Tekshan Valley, in Afghanistan, the loss of income incurred by households that complied with an opium poppy ban introduced by their local commander, combined with limited access to irrigated land and the failure of substitute crops, led to a shortfall in food supply and the migration of 1,500 families [93]. A similar phenomenon occurred in the Upper Huallaga Valley, in Peru, where both interdiction and eradication were ineffectual in altering the underlying economic advantage of cultivating coca bush over that of licit crops. The uncoordinated approach of law enforcement and development efforts left households unable to meet their basic needs once eradication had occurred [94]. Consequently, small farmers whose coca bush was eradicated migrated outside the project area and began cultivating coca bush in frontier zones as a means of safeguarding their livelihoods. 34

Within a context of increasing vulnerability, it is perhaps rational for producers to respond to alternative development projects as if they were temporary bonanzas, opting to receive assistance but safeguarding their livelihoods through relocating to more inaccessible areas on a temporary or permanent basis. Temporary relocation has been a common reaction to alternative development initiatives. 35 Of greater concern is the permanent shift of drug crop cultivation both in human and geographical terms, and the concomitant loss in biodiversity that has ensued, in particular in the national parks of Bolivia, the Lao People's Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Peru and the northern highlands of Thailand [21, 94]. 36

It has been argued that alternative development has systematically failed to acknowledge the mobility of rural populations in source areas, where migration has been a traditional response to changing opportunities and risks in the rural economy [3, 21, 98]. 37 In some source areas, inappropriate development interventions and, in particular, eradication can be seen to have played a major role in the relocation of producers to isolated areas free from state authority [21, 40, 43, 101]. Migra- tion should thus be viewed as a litmus test of unsuccessful development initiatives [98].

The explicit link between reductions in drug crop cultivation and the provision of development assistance has led to incidences of reverse conditionality, where local communities threaten to cultivate, or actually begin to cultivate drug crops as a means of gaining access to development interventions. 38 The provision of compensation for eradicated crops has exacerbated the process. Not only have the authorities been unable to prevent households from restarting cultivation after payment has been made, 39 there is also evidence that compensation has encouraged some farmers to start cultivation in order to receive subsidies [10]. 40

In addition, reverse conditionality has had serious implications for the allocation of project resources. 41 Because of uncertainty as to the resources and motivations of drug crop producers, alternative development initiatives have often adopted a comprehensive strategy to improve the socio-economy of the entire area rather than target drug crop producers or the poorest. In an attempt not to be seen to be discriminating against those who do not grow drug crops, the targets of the initiatives have often included the better off, who are less dependent on coca bush and opium poppy for their livelihoods. Such a strategy does not satisfy the objectives of either alternative development or conventional development interventions.

Some commentators have argued that it may be more effective to separate the issues of essential rehabilitation and development, which are required for their own sake, from the issue of drug crop cultivation. Where drug crop cultivation is a livelihood strategy, making assistance dependent on conditions and clauses that cannot easily be enforced is neither justified nor effective. Emphasis should be given to a more subtle approach, based on substituting the safety net that drug crop cultivation has given resource-poor households through increasing crop yields and encouraging agricultural diversity [23].

It is important that alternative development programmes assist drug crop cultivators, not drug crop cultivation. The point at which enforcement is brought to bear will depend on the motivations and circumstances of those households undertaking opium poppy and coca bush cultivation. Evidence indicates that the timing of enforcement and its close association with the wider development programme may have played some role in the relocation of opium poppy and coca bush cultivation. It is essential that the process of relocation is understood if alternative development is not to reduce cultivation in one area, only to see it increase in neighbouring regions. 42


The success of alternative development needs to be viewed within the context of what it can realistically hope to achieve [10]. Budget constraints, 43 the wider macroeconomic framework and the flexibility of traffickers have all tended to undermine such interventions. Given existing levels of demand, economics dictates that where drug crop cultivation is squeezed in one area it will undoubtedly occur in another. Considering the prevalence of rural underdevelopment and the fact that only 87.5 hectares of opium poppy and 27.5 hectares of coca bush are required to satisfy the entire cocaine and heroin demands of, for example, the United States, there is a need for an approach that addresses both the supply of, and the demand for, illicit drugs if a sustainable reduction in the total amount of drug crops cultivated is to be achieved [93, 104].

At the local level, experience has shown that alternative development has been closely associated with reductions in drug crop cultivation. Households have been found to abandon coca bush and opium poppy cultivation despite their reportedly unassailable profitability [36, 43, 63]. Off-farm income opportunities and alternative cropping systems have led to increases in income, both in absolute terms and in relation to drug crops [15]. Despite such localized successes, drug crop cultivation continues to increase. At present, the motivations and circumstances that determine household drug crop cultivation remain largely unexplored. It is impossible, therefore, to attribute local reductions in drug crop production to, or disassociate new areas of cultivation from, alternative development initiatives. An analysis of the outcome of specific project activities has also proved problematic, owing to the scarcity of accurate baseline data.

Research to date has generally focused on aggregate trends in drug crop cultivation at the national, regional and village levels. Project appraisal, design and monitoring have concentrated on static data collection techniques that give little guidance as to how development and law enforcement interventions can influence decision-making at the household level. 44 No in-depth study has been done to date of the conditions and priorities that individual farmers take into account when making decisions about their involvement in the cultivation of drug crops.

The lack of detailed analysis at the household level means that current initiatives tend to regard the producers of illicit drug crops as a homogenous group. Alternative development initiatives have ignored the multifunctional role that drug crops play in the livelihood of the household and the diversity among drug crop producers, in an attempt to bring about quick and visible reductions in drug crop cultivation. 45 The specific socio-economic, cultural and environmental circumstances that influence household production are consequently overlooked in project design. Rather, alternative development initiatives have adopted a uniform approach where emphasis is placed on the high economic returns that opium poppy and coca bush are reported to accrue per unit of land [4, 19, 20, 22, 24].

Such a simplified model of human behaviour, emphasizing economic rationality over that of other motivations, is both inadequate and inappropriate given the variety of circumstances and opportunities facing drug crop producers. 46 Such a model offers no explanation of the wide variance in drug crop cultivation at the regional, district and household levels. 47 Moreover, discussions regarding the economic profitability of drug crops fail to account for the process of graduation that many households in source areas have undertaken as they move from drug crop cultivation to licit economic activities without the provision of technical support from external agents. Documenting such a process, to include the reasons why a significant proportion of households continue not to grow drug crops in areas where they are cultivated intensively by the majority of farmers, could provide the framework in which to further our understanding of the role of social costs and economic profitability in household decision-making in source areas.

It is important to recognize that the cultivation of opium poppy and coca bush meets the demanding requirements of both the local environment and the rural economy. Attempting to replace the income received from opium poppy and coca bush with substitute crops is a necessary but insufficient condition for reducing levels of cultivation. Such a strategy will satisfy only wealthier households that produce illicit crops for extra income. Alternative development programmes need to recognize the high level of socio-economic differentiation that exists in source areas and target their initiatives accordingly. To achieve this, greater attention needs to be given to the resource constraints, aspirations and motivations of the household and the wider community. For those most dependent on drug crops, interventions need to give precedence to securing livelihoods through the extension of food crops and the promotion of value-added activities. For those less economically reliant on drug crop cultivation, greater emphasis could be given to applying social and legal pressure. Such a strategy would satisfy the objectives of both alternative and conventional development interventions.

Any programme aimed at persuading farmers to change from cultivating drug crops to alternatives will require very close and patient involvement with the communities concerned. Emphasis will need to be given to the heterogeneity of drug crop producing households and how structural and motivational factors are prioritized across socio-economic, spatial and cultural groups. Where motivations and resources differ, different interventions will be required. Only by ascertaining the role that opium poppy and coca bush cultivation plays within the socio-economy of the household will effective and sustainable interventions be determined that apply the appropriate balance of carrot and stick, to the right people, at the right time. To continue in the current analytical vacuum could be seen to be rewarding those who have alternative livelihoods and ignoring those who do not. This has implications not only for the cost-effectiveness of such a strategy: it also raises questions about the unintended consequences of alternative development, in particular with regard to its impact on the poor and the process of relocation. Greater understanding of decision-making at the household level would assist in determining more effective and sustainable initiatives aimed at reducing both existing and potential drug crop cultivation, and improving the life choices of beneficiaries.


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*The present article is a modified version of a paper originally commissioned by the Economic and Social Council on Research of the Overseas Development Administration of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, as part of a study entitled "Illicit drugs in developing countries: a literature review". Originally written in 1996 and modified in 1997, the article reflects the views of the author and should not be attributed to the Overseas Development Administration, now known as the Department for International Development.

1 There are several risks associated with cultivating opium poppy. Apart from the threat of eradication by law enforcement agencies, the opium poppy is vulnerable to natural threats during the first two months of growth, including inadequate sunshine, excessive rainfall, insects, worms, hailstorms, early frost and trampling by animals. During the harvest, rain and high winds will reduce yields. The harvesting of the opium poppy requires skill and experience: a significant proportion of the potential yield may be lost as a result of untimely, or improper, lancing [1]. The outbreak of fusarium oxysporum in the Upper Huallaga Valley in Peru illustrates the risk to coca leaf production from natural agents. Moreover, coca bush requires three days to dry after being harvested. In the tropical zones of the Andes, where coca bush is generally grown, excessive rainfall is typical. The timing of the harvest is critical if the leaves are not to blacken and be wasted [2].

2 The ecological range of coca bush is not limited to South America. At the turn of the nineteenth century, it was cultivated on the island of Java in Indonesia.

3 See Mansfield and Sage [7] and Dudley [8], who argue that alternative development initiatives, in particular those implemented by the Government of the United States, often do not comply with conventional development criteria and best practice, as they largely ignore cross-cutting issues such as poverty-targeting, participation, gender and environmental sustainability.

4 At the international level, only two alternative development projects have been attempted in areas of cannabis cultivation: in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon, which also produces the opium poppy, and the Rif region in Morocco.

5 One third of the Cochabamba Regional Development Project budget of $38 million was spent on the highland valleys between 1983 and 1992 [10].

6 Despite the assertion that the economic support funds were to assist the Government of Bolivia in its programme of economic reform, payments were closely tied to the achievement of eradication targets. Consequently, some commentators suggested that such funds were used to finance the compensation payments given to those coca bush farmers who agreed to eradicate their coca bush [2].

7 A number of commentators have suggested that the level of opium poppy cultivation in Thailand in the 1970s is questionable, claiming that figures were inflated in order to attain more financial assistance [45]. Although the level of opium poppy cultivation has undoubtedly fallen, there is some uncertainty about whether it has fallen as dramatically as some might suggest [46].

8 In Thailand, the authorities have adopted a gradual eradication process, based on their experience of annual reductions in opium poppy cultivation once remunerative substitute crops have been found. A minimum of three years is given for the transition to alternate crops after alternative net incomes are assured [29].

9 Rather than define the intended beneficiaries of the project and focus on poorer households, poppy growers or those with specific irrigation problems, phase one of the Dir Project adopted the role of comprehensive rehabilitation [15]. Some have argued that lack of clarity combined with the vested political interests of the local hierarchy led to resource allocation favouring the more affluent farmer, who tended to grow fewer opium poppy crops [26]. Gaining access to Dir may have initially required a pragmatic approach that sought to ease the concerns of the wealthy and powerful.

10 In addition, there is little detail of the motivations of persistent opium poppy growers in Buner, Malakand and Swabi, in Pakistan. The growers continued to grow opium poppy 10 years after the implementation of alternative development initiatives, only to see their crops destroyed each year.

11 It is particularly telling that after 30 years of rural development interventions in the highlands of Thailand, where environmental protection has been one of the key objectives, the actual impact that alternative development has had on the environment remains unclear [50].

12 Moreland et al. found that measures adopted in northern Thailand to empower local communities to initiate and manage their own development were given little emphasis, despite lessons from previous experience [50].

13 In Dir, in Pakistan, the density of population is particularly acute in Nihag and Usherai, where the majority of the area's opium poppy cultivation was undertaken [27, 55].

14 In Bolivia, 92 per cent of those interviewed in Campero and Mizque were found to have less than 5 hectares of land [56].

15 It is argued that migration from the highlands of Bolivia was driven by a process of economic stagnation and environmental degradation. Faced with diminishing agricultural yields, migration became the only means by which land-constrained households on the altiplano could satisfy their basic needs. However, that process led to a chronic labour scarcity in the highlands, affecting the household's capacity to manage on-farm resources effectively. Agricultural productivity declined further as a result, intensifying the pressure to migrate [57].

16 The influx of landless peasants from northern Thailand and government restrictions on the use of forest land have placed increasing pressure on land availability in northern Thailand [58, 59, 60].

17 Given the limited local off-farm income opportunities, some interventions sought to provide vocational training by which small landholders would be able to obtain employment elsewhere. However, it is unclear what the implications of such a strategy are for the long-term development of the area and the household division of labour. Locally based small-enterprise initiatives would seem to have a greater impact on the development of the area as a whole and constitute a strategy that may be more attune to the values and aspirations of local communities. Moreover, an approach that is aimed at developing local off-farm income opportunities would have a greater opportunity of integrating the needs and priorities of women than one that seeks to train migratory labour.

18 In Afghanistan, high yields and increasing prices have been significant enough for wheat to compete with opium poppy in real economic terms in Helmand and Oruzgan, albeit during a time of falling opium prices.

19 It has been argued that it is labour that acts as the limiting factor in the production of drug crops in some source areas [26, 27, 43, 63, 68]. The use and availability of hired labour in most drug crop producing areas, however, seems to suggest that it is not labour availability per se, but the availability of unpaid family labour or other cheap labour that acts as the real constraint on drug crop cultivation [28, 37, 69].

20 The exception appears to be in Colombia, where it is reported that plantations of 15 hectares or more are financed by traffickers [10]. This is not confirmed in any of the other literature reviewed for this article.

21 In the United Nations International Drug Control Programme report on Afghanistan [23], it is indicated that the rural cultivator in Afghanistan will balance the amount of land sown with opium poppy and household food requirements. When basic foodstuffs such as wheat and flour can be purchased easily for reasonable prices, the farmer may opt to dedicate a greater proportion of land to opium poppy cultivation. When wheat becomes too expensive or too difficult to purchase, however, the farmer will reduce the amount of land planted with opium poppy and increase wheat cultivation, until the balance of the two corresponds to household food and cash requirements [23].

22 In Afghanistan, the weeding of opium poppy alone has been estimated to require 225 days per hectare. Moreover, harvesting is considered particularly labour-intensive, owing to the relatively short period of time that the capsules remain productive and the skilled nature of the task [72]. Tapp has estimated that for the Hmong of northern Thailand, less than 0.2 hectare would require one person month of labour [32]. Estimates with regard to the total amount of labour required per hectare of opium poppy in the highland areas of the Lao People's Democratic Republic and Thailand vary between 300 and 486 person days, compared with 69 person days per hectare for rice, 178 days for paddy, 79 days for maize and 138 days for chilli [60, 63, 73]. Estimates of labour requirements for coca bush range from 69 to 368 days per hectare according to the intensity of cultivation. The demanding labour requirements of establishing coca bush have meant that most households need to hire labour in excess of traditional family and reciprocal labour arrangements [74]. In the Upper Huallaga Valley in Peru, those households with the smallest areas of cultivable land have relied the most heavily on hired labour, despite its relatively high cost [21, 75].

23 Despite the important role that drug crops play in the economy of the household, priority is often given to subsistence crops [52, 60, 65]. Miles [73] has indicated that the Lisu will often substitute labour spent in the harvesting of opium poppy to clear grain swiddens. The reason for such a choice is explained in terms of the opportunity cost to labour. Although opium poppy is thought to provide higher returns, the season is limited to less than six months per annum. The value of the grain produced throughout the rest of the year far exceeds the income they forego in preparing rice and maize fields. Multicropping offers households that produce drug crops a total return on labour that compensates overwhelmingly for the reduction in labour productivity resulting from decreased opium poppy cultivation [73].

24 Lee and Clawson [10] suggest that labour is the most significant factor in household production costs for coca leaf, accounting for 64-92 per cent of total costs, depending on the techncial level of production.

25 In Afghanistan, opium poppy cultivation is generally undertaken by annual sharecropping arrangements. Although agreements will differ, landlords will often secure as much as two thirds of the opium poppy harvest [78, 79]. Such access to cheap labour has prompted some landowners actively to seek skilled farm labourers from neighbouring districts to grow opium poppy on a sharecropping basis [80]. The use of modern inputs means that both landowner and sharecropper can maximize their returns on labour.

26 In the Lao People's Democratic Republic and Thailand, labour costs have been minimized by using opium addicts as workers. This has prompted ethnic groups such as the Hmong and Lisu to locate their villages near Karen villages, where there is often a ready supply of addicts [60, 64, 66].

27 During the author's visit to Dir, in Pakistan, it was widely stated that women were not involved in the harvesting of opium poppy but that they played an important role in the extensive sowing, weeding and hoeing needed. Other reports have suggested that women harvested opium poppy, in particular those from poorer households. Considering the role women played in other household farming activities, especially in looking after livestock, it is unclear what impact increasing the legal agricultural production of the area would have on women's working hours and status. If enforcement of the ban is expected to lower household income, women and children's working hours could increase, in particular within poorer households.

28 Gillogy has suggested, in a personal communication [46], that the burden of the transition from opium-based to non-opium-based agriculture has fallen disproportionately on girls and young women. According to Gillogy, the result is more weeding; longer distances to fields, contouring and other soil conservation measures and year-round agricultural work because households plant a diverse array of crops in hope of hitting on one or two with a good market price that year.

29 In the Dir region, in Pakistan, although local traders (known as beopari) were found to buy at the farmgate, the majority of the trade in opium was done with the local shopkeeper [26]. The strong odour that emanates from raw opium makes its transportation a risky venture, in particular for villagers who may not have access to the appropriate contacts [37, 85].

30 Credit in subsistence economies, however, has proved problematic. Lack of land tenure in many source areas and citizenship in Thai hilltribe villages has exacerbated the situation [16, 33]. In the Chapare, in Bolivia, the credit arrangements set up in 1987 under "PL-480" (the initiative sponsored by the United States Agency for International Development) came under particular criticism owing to its failure to offer households a financial bridge between eradication and the receipt of income from alternative crops. Some have argued that the stringent requirements of the loan programme, combined with harsh repayment schedules, exacerbated the economic position of those who took up the loan and may have led to an increase in coca bush cultivation [75, 77]. With loans at a minimum of $2,000 and an average of $6,500, it is unlikely that the scheme reached small farmers [87]. In Thailand, rice, seed, fertilizer and medicine banks have proved very successful with regard to uptake and repayment in both Pae Por and Sam Mun highland development projects [14, 16].

31 In the border areas of China, the Lao People's Democratic Republic, Myanmar and Thailand, opium poppy has traditionally been cultivated by the Hmong, Lahu, Lisu and Mien [85]. In Afghanistan and Pakistan, opium poppy cultivation tends to be undertaken by Pashtoons, except in Badakhshan [72]. Among many of those groups, the intricacies of opium poppy growing and opium extraction is a component of every child's basic education [63].

32 Increasingly, intermediaries are unwilling to buy raw coca leaf and are insisting on purchasing paste. Some growers are reluctant to undertake paste production and are moving out of coca bush cultivation. It is currently unclear what proportion of households are willing to undertake processing as a response to falling prices or the new demands of intermediaries.

33 In Afghanistan, local initiatives aimed at reducing drug crop cultivation in Jurm, Kosh and Yaftal led to increasing levels of vulnerability owing to the lack of alternative sources of income [92, 93].

34 Bedoya estimated that coca bush cultivation may have led either directly or indirectly to the loss of 700,000 hectares of forest cover in Peru since the 1970s, which is 10 per cent of the total deforestation of the Peruvian Amazon that took place in the twentieth century [35]. Guerra and Hernandes put the figure nearer 9 million hectares [95].

35 It was reported that in Yaftal and Shewa, in Afghanistan, bans enforced by local commanders led to a shift in the location of opium poppy cultivation [72]. In the Dir region, in Pakistan, the scattered nature of landholdings provided farmers with the opportunity of diversifying their crop production and experimenting with alternative crops on irrigated land on the valley floor, while continuing to cultivate opium poppy on unirrigated land in the higher parts of the valley. In more remote areas in Pakistan and Thailand, relocation has involved crossing national borders to ensure cultivation can be undertaken unhindered [20, 32, 33, 38, 79]. In Thailand, it is reported that a favourite practice has been to plant opium poppy within the boundaries of another village so as to divert blame should the plants be discovered [46].

36 In Bolivia, Isiboro Secure and Amboro national parks have already been encroached upon by coca bush growers and there is thought to be an increasing threat to the Beni [96]. Abiseo national parks and the national forests of Von Humboldt, Huanoco and Biabo are also inhabited by coca-producing peasants [35]. By May 1994, it was thought that Isiboro Secure National Park contained 1,500 hectares of registered coca bush cultivation and an estimated 5,000-6,000 hectares of illicit cultivation. Estimates in 1996 suggested that illicit cultivation could have increased to 15,000 hectares.

37 In Bolivia, one quarter of the population was found to be residing in a place other than that of their birth in 1976 [99]. The Chapare, in particular, has been found to contain a mobile population, where a third of the population is thought to be transient and 10,000-22,000 families are said to have left the area in 1990. Falling opium poppy yields and conflict have also often acted as triggers for migration for the Lisu [34, 64, 85, 100].

38 In Kunar, in Afghanistan, it has been suggested that some farmers have planted opium poppy adjacent to the road as a means by which to attract development assistance [23]. In Pakistan, in Usherai, Dir, a 90 per cent increase in opium poppy cultivation in 1996 was attributed largely to the small valley of Ali Gha Sar and its desire to be included in the wider district development programme.

39 In the Chapare, in Bolivia, households were paid $2,000 per hectare of coca bush eradicated; however, it was estimated that the cost to plant one hectare of coca bush is $1,000-1,500. Therefore, for every hectare of coca bush eradicated, 1.5-2 hectares could be replanted [10].

40 The report by Lee and Clawson [10] suggests that 23,000 hectares of coca bush were voluntarily eradicated between 1988 and 1992, at an imputed cost of $45 million. In the same period, however, 29,000 hectares were planted or discovered.

41 In the Dir region in Pakistan, the growing prosperity of the western valleys was often cited as an example of the relationship between socio-economic development and reduced opium poppy cultivation. Remittances from the Middle East and the availability of labour and local off-farm income opportunities were seen as integral to the low level of opium poppy cultivation in valleys such as Sultan Khel. Despite the low incidence of opium poppy cultivation, Sultan Khel and other valleys on the western side of the Panjorka received assistance. The decision was justified on the basis not of poverty but that to neglect those areas would result in an expansion of opium poppy cultivation [26].

42 In Pakistan, successive alternative development initiatives saw opium poppy cultivation relocate to neighbouring districts. For instance, with the success of the Dir project in 1996, opium poppy cultivation became centred in the Ambar and Pranghar district of Mohmand and Salarzai, Utmankhel and Barang districts in Bajaur. Those areas were not necessarily the most remote districts but were adjacent to former areas of cultivation in Malakand and Dir [43].

43 It is also important to recognize that, despite the rhetoric, financial aid for crop substitution and development assistance from the United States is still insignificant. For example, in 1997, it represented only 10.6 per cent of the overseas narcotics budget. Law enforcement, military counter-narcotics support and eradication still command over 65 per cent of the total budget. Moreover, military counter-narcotics support is being given greater priority each year [102]. Bertram and Sharpe discuss at more length the allocation of resources to demand and supply-side strategies of the Government of the United States [103].

44 Surveys have proved problematic in drug crop producing areas, providing only a snapshot of complex and dynamic processes, offering little with regard to methodological rigour and failing to cross-check information to ensure its validity. Ahmed has indicated that population figures for the Pashtoon tribal areas bordering Afghanistan and Pakistan can be overestimated by as much as three to four times for the male population and significantly underestimated for the female population. This is explained by a political and cultural framework in which men are associated with political and military prestige and any information regarding women is considered private, in keeping with the practice of seclusion [106]. Understandably, any information regarding more sensitive issues such as the extent and profitability of illicit drug cultivation will also be set within a wider political and cultural context, in particular, what respondents believe the data will be used for.

45 Dudley [8] states that one of the results is that large, poorly considered projects are thrown at complex situations. In Bolivia, in the Chapare, the approach of the agro-industrial projects seems to reflect 1960s development thinking. At that time, it was typical to assume that the project team had all the answers and had simply to hand them to the peasantry, who accepted them without question. In short, the drug control imperative is being used to justify the worst features of naive, top-down development [8].

46 Lee and Clawson suggest that the approaches of the United States Agency for International Development to crop substitution are too driven by economic models of peasant behaviour [10].

47 In the Dir region, in Pakistan, for example, opium poppy cultivation is undertaken in the valleys east of the Panjorka River. In the west, opium poppy cultivation was always negligible. Moreover, in villages where drug crop cultivation is concentrated, although opium poppy and coca bush are grown by a wide section of the community, they are not grown by all its members [20]. Even among drug crop producing households, there is large variance in the extent of household cultivation and their commitment to drug crop cultivation [26]. This does not seem atypical of source areas [15, 23].

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