LIMA — Coffee producers in Peru are abandoning their farms to work on plantations that grow coca, the main ingredient in cocaine, due to slumping coffee prices and delays in certifying organic beans, the country’s main coffee association said on Monday.
The group, the Junta Nacional del Cafe (JNC), said farmers starting migrating to drug-trafficking regions in December to work on coca plantations, where they can earn higher pay of between 70 and 120 soles ($21 and $36) per day.
The pace has picked up since then, with hundreds of farmers abandoning their coffee crops daily, the JNC said.
“Coffee … exports are in real trouble, and we lack the support of the government with clear actions to overcome them,” said the JNC’s head, Tomas Cordova. “This foments poverty, unemployment and the expansion of illegal crops.”
Devida, Peru’s anti-drug agency, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The trend would mark setback for efforts to combat drug trafficking in Peru, a leading producer.