Peru has overtaken Colombia to became the world’s leading producer of coca leaf, the plant that is used to make cocaine.
Just over 45 per cent of coca in the world comes from Peru, while 39.3 per cent is grown in Colombia and 15.3 per cent 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, Mr 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 per cent 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.”
Mr Costa said that despite the rise in Peru, the overall total of coca acreage in the three Andean countries dropped by five per cent 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 Mr 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, Mr Lale said.
According to Peruvian government figures, drug trafficking generated 22 billion dollars in 2009, nearly 17 per cent of its gross domestic product.
Published: 7:00AM BST 23 Jun 2010
Source: The Telegraph