Report from a webinar organised by María Margarita Fontecha and Justina Walker / With the support of Silvia Sarapura, Assistant Professor in the School of Environmental Design and Rural Development, University of Guelph

Approximately 41 percent of coca growers in Colombia are 19 years old or younger (Garzón et al., 2018). The high number of youth’s involvement in coca production is largely due to the fact that their families and communities have been engaged in this economic activity for generations. Coca cultivation is a threatening activity and involves many risks including army or military persecution, and violence because coca production is considered an illicit activity and has a direct relationship with illegal armed groups (Acero & Thomson, 2021). Yet, coca cropping is conducted in territories characterized by limited development where poverty and exclusion predominate. Profits from coca cultivation have not been reflected in improvement of citizen’s quality of life and their communities (Garzón et al., 2018). At present, research and policies are still far from understanding the complex realities of coca cultivators. Most of the territories where coca grows lack formal markets, infrastructure, and formal institutions arrangements. These limit the access of rural populations to resources such as credit, education, infrastructure, training, and inputs which in return contribute to insufficient skills and inputs for the cultivation of other crops.