Aggressive eradication programs and alternatives for poor farmers have helped reduce the acreage under coca cultivation in Colombia by 25 percent during 2012, according to the United Nations.
The total area for coca, the base material for cocaine, was estimated at 120,000 acres last year, down from 160,000 in 2011, according to an annual survey released Thursday by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
According to the U.N. report, programs promoting alternative crops such as yucca, plantains and papaya are working for farmers. Last year 60 percent of farmers said coca was their only viable cash crop, down from 82 percent in 2005.
The amount of cocaine produced in Colombia last year was estimated at approximately 340 tons, comparable to the 2011 figure.
The average wholesale price for a kilo of cocaine sold to traffickers in Colombia last year was roughly $2,500, approximately the same amount as from 2009 to 2011, the UN report said. Drug enforcement officials have said that is one-tenth of the price paid by drug dealers in Atlanta or Miami for Colombian cocaine, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The provinces with the highest coca production levels were the southern border states of Narino and Putumayo, signs of how drug traffickers are increasingly using Ecuador as a transit hub. Although Ecuador remains a relatively minor cocaine producer, police there have seized several laboratories in recent years that process coca paste imported from Colombia.
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