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Last Updated:[18-08-2009 07:02:13 EDT] Zoom in Zoom out Back to Tradenews

Peru to be the World Leader of Coca Production in Two Years

tradenews The significant increase in acreage of coca cultivation and production of Peru will likely usurp Columbia from its throne as the largest coca producer in the world by 2011. In recent times, Colombia has witnessed huge slide in coca production and acreage, whereas Peru showed enormous growth in both areas.

An analyst Jaime Garcia Diaz told La Republica newspaper, 2011 or 2012 Peru would probably become the No.1 producer of cocaine in the world, as occurred in the 1980s. During that decade, the amount of land under coca cultivation in Peru was about 120,000 hectares (300,000 acres). The total area of coca plantation in 2008 reached 56,100 hectares from 48,200 hectares of 2005.

According to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime's annual study of Andean nations, Peruvian coca cultivation grew 4.5 percent and estimated cocaine production rose 4.1 percent to 302 tons in 2008. At this pace, both production and acreage of Peru will witness massive growth, in spite of government’s efforts to eradicate about 10,000 hectares of the illegal crop each year.

Peru's coca growing area in the Apurimac and Ene valleys has become the largest production zone in the country. The region is controlled by remnant members of the radical leftist Shining Path rebels, who have launched a series of devastating attacks this year on the Peruvian soldiers trying to root out coca farms.

On the contrary, owing to large scale coca plant eradication programs initiated by the Columbian government with international help have reduced the acreage as well as forced drug traffickers to shift their production to Peru. Colombian cocaine production fell 28 percent to 430 tons in 2008, its lowest level in a decade, and cultivation was cut by 18 percent to 81,000 hectares.

A small share of the total coca leaf production is used by Peruvians for brewing tea, making indigenous medicines and in its traditional religious rites. Besides, the Andean peasants chewed coca leaf as a light stimulant that could overcome hunger pangs and sickness associated with high altitudes. However, according to sources, more than 90 percent of the yield is known to be used for cocaine production.

By Jose Roy

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