Colombia is experimenting with drones to see if the machines can fumigate coca, the base ingredient for cocaine, according to newspaper El Tiempo.
According to the newspaper, initial tests indicate that the right kind of drones could destroy coca three times as fast as through manual eradication.
The country banned aerial fumigation using aircraft in 2013, but El Tiempo reported that precision spraying by low-flying drones could still be legal and less damaging to the general environment and health of farmers.
The National Police has reportedly been testing drones that are able to carry 10 liters of pesticide for 10-minute fumigation flights.
The drones were equipped to work in dusty areas and could work
Using this technology would allow the national police to eradicate 10 to 15 hectares a day instead of the three to five that can be eradicated by one eradication unit, El Tiempo reported.
The drones would also reduce the risk of landmines and avoid physical confrontations between farmers and police, according to the newspaper.
El Tiempo did not report what the probability would be that a drone is shot down by a drug trafficker or farmer, and how much the loss of a drone would cost.
The National Police has been under major pressure to make its eradication efforts more effective. Thousands of security personnel are manually eradicating coca, but this is draining resources.
Security forces have failed to control much of the country’s territory, which has led to extreme violence from drug trafficking that target farmers and community leaders who promote the voluntary removal of coca.
Colombia’s profitable drug trafficking industry is fueling illegal armed groups that have embarked on turf wars over regional control and criminal activity in several parts of the country.
These groups have also attacked police and United Nations personnel that is in charge of monitoring the voluntary eradication efforts.