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Drug Crop Production, Poverty, and Development

  • When
  • February 9, 2016
    10:30 a.m.–8:00 p.m. (EST)
  • Where
  • Open Society Foundations–New York
    224 West 57th Street
    New York, NY 10019
    United States of America

Coca, opium poppy, and cannabis are cultivated by millions of people, mostly in the Global South. International law requires governments to uproot and destroy all cultivation of these crops not related to accepted medical and scientific use, but drug crop production still proves to be a promising livelihood for many rural populations. Efforts to replace cultivation with other activities have been mostly unsuccessful, and the current prohibitionist approach comes at an extremely high cost, including endangerment of small-holder farmers as they are pursued by police and military forces.

In this event, an international panel of researchers and growers from Colombia, Morocco, Peru, and the United States discussed the role of drug crop production in poverty and development. The event launched a brief report outlining key recommendations on the topic for UN member states to consider leading up to the 2016 UN General Assembly Special Session on drugs, and featured photography by Juan Barrero and documentary films on coca farmers from Xenia Grubstein and German Ramirez.


  • Pedro Arenas is director of the Observatory on Growers and Crops Declared Illicit, Colombia.
  • Julia Buxton is associate dean at the School of Public Policy, Central European University, Budapest
  • Hugo Cabieses is an economist specializing in drugs and alternative development in Peru.
  • Diego Garcia Devis is a program officer for the Open Society Foundations Global Drug Policy Program.
  • Kathryn Ledebur is a researcher, activist, and analyst of alternative livelihoods, coca, and drug control strategies, with a specific focus on Bolivia.
  • Serafín Andrés Luján is a member of the CONPACCP (National Confederation of Agricultural Producers of the Coca Valleys of Peru)
  • Herney Ruiz is a spokesperson for CIMA (Comite de Integracion del Macizo Colombiano).
  • Abdellatif Sedati is president of the Confederation of Associations of Sanhaja du Rif in Morocco.
  • Dora Troyano is a specialist in conservation ecology at the University Foundation of Popayan–Colombia.


  • Juan Barrero is a documentary photographer.
  • Xenia Grubstein is a documentary filmmaker.
  • German Ramirez is a documentary filmmaker.

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