Poppy Planting Increases In Golden Triangle ~ Borderland Beat

 “Ivan” for Borderland Beat 

In 2019-2020, the downward trend of this crop was broken.

Poppy is once again flourishing in the Golden Triangle, according to a UN and Sedena report indicating that the area planted increased by 12 percent after a downward trend.

The Government of Mexico and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime released the fifth report of the MEXK54 Project “Mexico, Monitoring Illicit Poppy Plantations 2019-2020”.

The document states that between July 2019 and June 2020, the total poppy area in Mexico was estimated at 24,100 hectares, which reveals a 12 percent increase compared to the 2018-2019 period, when the cultivated area was estimated at 21,500 hectares.

Poppy planting remains mainly in the region of the Sierra Madre Occidental, concentrated in the “Golden Triangle” and also large concentrations were located in the north of the state of Nayarit, as well as in the mountainous region of the Sierra Madre del Sur encompassing the states of Guerrero and Oaxaca.

In 2019-2020, the downward planting trend was broken. In 2016-2017 the estimated area was 30,600 hectares, in 2017-2018 it dropped to 28,000 and in 2018-2019 it decreased to 21,500.

The estimates of planted hectares were obtained through photo-interpretation of satellite images complemented with field verifications, field visits and aerial photography, the document details.

The report also obtained results of opium gum yield estimates and morphine content from measurements and data collection in the sowing areas between the months of October 2019 and April 2020.

At the national level, the yield was 20.8 kilos of gum per hectare and a potential dry opium production of 504 tons.

The Golden Triangle is the area where planting has the lowest yield with 19.2 kilos of rubber per hectare planted.

In Guerrero, production is 22.2 kilos per hectare and the national average is 20 kilos per hectare.

The organization points out that it does not currently have technical information on the conditions to which the substances are subjected nor the efficiency of their chemical reaction in clandestine laboratories during the processes for the elaboration of heroin, for which reason it is not possible to estimate the potential production of heroin.

Undoc points out that despite eradication campaigns by the Mexican government, the opium gum market persists and continues to be a profitable activity.

Opium gum can be stored for long periods of time allowing it to be marketed when conditions are optimal for the farmer, he says.

It mentions that during the field work carried out by the project’s analysts, they observed that farmers use fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides, which indicates a greater investment in the technification of the field that allows them to obtain a higher yield of opium gum per hectare planted.

The destruction of plantations at national level for 2020 was 11 thousand 747 hectares of poppy, remaining stable with respect to 2019.

In terms of crop destruction, the states of Chihuahua, Durango, Guerrero, Sinaloa and Oaxaca accounted for 94.6 percent of the hectares destroyed in 2020, with a total of 11,120.

At the local level, during 2020, the seizure of kilograms of opium gum was concentrated in municipalities belonging to Nayarit and Sinaloa, while the seizure of this substance in liquid form occurred in the state of Sinaloa.

In the destruction of clandestine laboratories for the production of heroin decreased by 33 percent and those used to produce methamphetamines increased by 28 percent.

“In the causes of the apparent reduction in the destruction of poppy crops, it is important to consider the role that new psychoactive substances have played in criminal markets. Given that they tend to involve a higher profit margin compared to other substances such as opioids, they would be more attractive to criminal organizations,” he mentions.

For the yield study, the project’s group of analysts visited a total of 131 poppy fields in the field, of which 59 were in the states of Sinaloa, Chihuahua and Durango, and 72 in the state of Guerrero.

The project is part of the strategic relationship that Undoc and the Government of Mexico have been building for almost 20 years and seeks to continue generating information and evidence that will lead efforts to address the causes of poppy cultivation through the design of public policies with approaches and strategies based on the comprehensive and sustainable development of the affected communities.

By having data on the location and extension of the plantations, as well as their yields, it is possible to plan and organize eradication efforts.

Article published on December 18, 2022 in the 1038 edition of the weekly Ríodoce.


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