Tags: Peru | coca | producer | colombia

Peru Now Number One Coca Producer

Wednesday, 23 Jun 2010 08:41 AM

LIMA — Peru has overtaken Colombia to became the world's leading producer of coca leaf, the source plant for cocaine, a UN report said Tuesday.

Fully 45.4 percent of coca in the world comes from Peru, while 39.3 percent is grown in Colombia and 15.3 percent in Bolivia, according to a report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

"Peru has surpassed Colombia as the world's leading coca leaf producer," Aldo Lale, the UNODC representative in Bogota, said at a press conference.

Peru produced 119,000 metric tonnes of coca leaf in 2009, while Colombia produced 103,000 tonnes during the same period, Lale said.

Colombia remains the largest source for processed cocaine, although its production has fallen dramatically from 600 tonnes in 2007 to 410 tonnes in 2009.

The report did not have the latest figures for Peru's cocaine production but in 2008 it produced 302 tonnes, up 4.1 percent from the prior year.

"If the current trend continues, Peru will soon overtake Colombia as the world's biggest coca producer -- a notorious status that it has not had since the mid-1990s," warned UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa.

"I invite the Peruvian government to take concerted action on all fronts to improve the delivery of public health and security by expanding sustainable livelihood initiatives, drug prevention and treatment programmes, law enforcement and regional cooperation."

Costa said that despite the rise in Peru, the overall total of coca acreage in the three Andean countries dropped by five percent in 2009, due to the large decline in Colombia.

"The drug control policy adopted by the Colombian Government over the past few years -- combining security and development - is paying off," said Costa.

The size of coca plantations have increased in Peru for the fourth year running, rising from 56,100 hectares (139,000 acres) in 2008 to 59,900 hectares (148,000 acres) in 2009, Lale said.

According to Peruvian government figures, drug trafficking generated 22 billion dollars in 2009, nearly 17 percent of its gross domestic product.

Remnants of the Shining Path guerrilla group, which terrorized Peru in the 1980s and 1990s, today work as hired guns for drug traffickers, authorities say.

In Colombia, the country's two leftist guerrilla groups as well as right-wing paramilitary groups have been linked to drug trafficking, either directly involved in producing and selling cocaine or working to protect traffickers.

The United States and Europe are the main markets for Peruvian cocaine, according to officials in Lima, and UN officials said these consuming nations must do more.

"There are limits to what the Andean governments can do if people keep snorting cocaine," Costa said.

"It is therefore up to governments in coke consuming countries -- mostly in Europe and North America -- to take their share of responsibility and reduce demand for cocaine."

Peru's antidrug czar Romulo Pizarro said that global demand for drugs has grown and that puts pressure on countries that produce coca and cocaine.

"We have a serious problem on our borders (for drugs), but also know that the other side there are many consuming countries; in Asia demand is increasing," he said.

"We're not asking for a handout, we need to countries join us because drug trafficking is a shared problem," he said.

Copyright © 2010 AFP. All rights reserved.

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LIMA — Peru has overtaken Colombia to became the world's leading producer of coca leaf, the source plant for cocaine, a UN report said Tuesday.
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