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Colombia Coca Cultivation Plummeted In 2012 -- Report

posted 8 Aug 2013, 16:18 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 8 Aug 2013, 16:18 ]

Colombia's coca cultivation fell by a quarter last year, according to a report released Thursday (August 08).

BOGOTACOLOMBIA (AUGUST 8, 2013) (REUTERS) -  Coca cultivation in Colombia, the world's biggest cocaine producer, fell by a quarter in 2012 as the state cracked down on the crop and farmers diversified away from it, data showed on Thursday (August 8).

The area under coca cultivation shrank substantially from a year earlier although farmers may have planted as much as 135,000 hectares during the year in a cat-and-mouse game with police, according to an annual survey by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Bogota government.

"The data are encouraging, reflecting the Colombian government's efforts to reduce cocaine production. The results of the census show that on the 31st of December 2012, Colombia had 48,000 hectares planted with coca, distributed through 23 of the 32 departments of the country. This represents a significant reduction of 25 percent of the planted area with respect to the 64,000 hectares identified in 2011," said Bo Mathiasen, UNODC representative in Colombia.

Authorities eradicated by hand nearly 30,500 hectares of coca bushes and sprayed over three times more from the air, similar to 2011 levels, the report showed.

It estimated the farm-gate value of coca leaf and derivatives such as coca paste and cocaine base at $370 million in 2012 - down from $422 million the year before - worth 0.2 percent of national economic output.

While prices were mostly stable for cocaine base and paste, the coca leaf yield per hectare fell and the number of households linked to coca growing fell 3 percent to 60,600.

The report put 2012 production of pure cocaine at around 309 tonnes, in line with the 2011 figure, while cocaine seizures rose by a fifth to around 188 tonnes.

"For 2012, the total production of cocaine was reduced in a lower proportion than the area. We have calculated and we are calculating a reduction of 10 percent, reaching an estimated 309 tonnes," Mathiasen said.

Colombian Defence Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon on Thursday said the government plans to slash coca production even further this year.

"If we meet our goals this year, and we have to complete them, esteemed officials present here. That is to say, they must be met, because to complete them pays, has results, produces benefits for the country. If we meet these goals, surely we will be thinking next year to have about 30,000 hectares of coca," he said.

PeruColombia and Bolivia are the world's biggest coca producers. Official data earlier this week showed Bolivia's cultivation fell for the second consecutive year in 2012.