Coca cultivation drops dramatically in San Martín region

A study at Peru’s Catholic University found the illicit cultivation of coca leaf has fallen off dramatically in the Peruvian department of San Martín, state news agency Andina reported.

Jaime García of the University’s Institute for International Studies said that more than 30,000 hectares were used to grow coca – the raw material used to make cocaine – in the 1990s. The study revealed that only 350 hectares were under illicit coca cultivation in 2008.

He said the decline is partially due to the application of alternative development programs, an increased state presence in the region, as well as eradication efforts.

San Martín is located in north-central Peru and borders Huánuco, where the country’s top coca producing area, the Upper Huallaga Valley, is located.

The study showed that the area used to cultivate coca in Huánuco increased from 9,600 hectares in 2000 to 18,000 hectares in 2008.

Peru is the world’s second largest producer of coca and cocaine, after Colombia.

In 2008, more than 56,000 hectares were used to grow coca. Peru produced 302 tons of cocaine in 2008, which represented 36 percent of the global cocaine manufactured that year.

A report by the International Narcotics Control Board released last month found that between 1999 and 2008, Peruvian territory under illicit cultivation of coca leaf increased by 45 percent. The report said the country’s growing illicit cultivation of coca leaf and consequent drug supply could surpass Colombia in five to 10 years.

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