Fumigations Destroy Crops

News from Colombia | on: Monday, 3 November 2014

On 31 October peasant farmers from the villages of Puerto Playa, Bajo Lorenzo, La Espanola, San Salvador and Agualongo in the municipality of Puerto Asis, a scant 10km from the border with Ecuador, reported that the government had again begun a programme of fumigations.

The fumigations violate agreements reached at the regional roundtable between peasant organisations and the government, where the government agreed not to fumigate until the crop substation programme had begun in the region. Local organisations denounce that yet again the government is not fulfilling its obligations.

The fumigations were one of the reasons for recent protests across the region, during which dozens of activists were wounded and one killed. The fumigations destroyed a sugar cane plantation, plantain crops, some forestry projects and grassland.

The fumigations also risk damaging crops, water resources and public health in nearby Ecuador. In the past, fumigations have been the cause of serious diplomatic problems between the two countries and last year Colombia paid Ecuador 15 million USD in compensation for damages caused by fumigations along the border. Ecuadorean peasants complain of chemicals drifting over the border which produce headaches, nausea and other problems.

In Colombia fumigations have been a central part of the government’s strategy against the cultivation of coca. Critics point out that the spraying with highly toxic chemicals kills legitimate crops while coca is able to re-grow, and that it contaminates water supplies and causes damage to human health and the broader environment. Moreover, as coca is a cash crop with high demand, peasants sometimes grow it to provide a security in case fumigations destroy their legal crops.

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