Peru Supplants Colombia As Top Coca Producer

By Dialogo
June 27, 2011

Peru has become the world’s largest producer of coca, the plant used to make cocaine, knocking longtime leader Colombia into second place, a new UN report said.

The 2011 UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) report says Peru has 61,200 hectares (150,000 acres) of coca cultivated in 2010, two percent more than in the previous year, when there were some 59,900 hectares planted, according to the report.

Colombia meanwhile saw a significant reduction in the amount of land cultivated with coca plants, from 68,000 hectares to 57,000.

The bad news confirms a report issued by the Lima government itself in 2009, which found that Peru overtook Colombia as the world’s top producer of coca leaf in 2009.

“Coca cultivation has been expanding for a decade, as successive governments have not appeared to have decided to curb it,” said drugs and security expert Ruben Vargas.

The latest UN report does not mention a figure of Peru’s cocaine production, but on 23 June the country’s drug czar, Romulo Pizarro, told AFP that the estimate for 2010 is 330 tons, close to the estimated 350 tons produced by Colombia.

But the official said Peru had seized just 30 tons of cocaine in 2010, compared with 100 tons in Colombia.

In economic terms, the coca and cocaine trade is worth between $2 billion and $2.5 billion, according to Pizarro.

Peruvian troops have been struggling to contain production in the country’s eastern valleys, where 4,000 soldiers and police have been tracking hundreds of so-called “narco-terrorists” connected to the Shining Path insurgency group.

They have struggled to police areas outside of major cities however, as the drug traffickers have found refuge in the thick tropical jungles and steep hills, said military chief of staff, General Luis Howell.

It is impossible to understand by what means Peru became the number one producer of coca and cocaine. The UN report indicates clearly that, while USA is the number one consumer of cocaine, Colombia is the number one producer of coca and cocaine. Colombia registers 62,000 hectares of coca in 2010 and Peru 61,200 hectares, while the 2011 report does not provide data about the production of cocaine. When a so-called expert expresses his/her opinion about drugs and the fight against this calamity and is paid with foreign cooperate funds, it is logical that his/her conclusions will support his/her benefactors and that they are not independent.