Wednesday, July 30
Alternative crops a tough sell in the Peruvian Amazon foothills.
The story of alternative crops, in this case palm oil, is dead horse in the Peruvian Amazon. Coca growers have heard the story before but the Peruvian and U.S. governments never follow through. I can remember stories in the early 1980s about palm oil competing with coca, but it never happened. It's not an issue of just growing -- you need transport, loans, markets, wholesale and retail networks to get a new crop going. But somewhere before the goal, Washington changes administration or new priorities arise or the Lima government goes into free fall, and the whole scheme falls apart. Farmers have seen this again and again over the past 50 years and longer.