Peru On Track to Meet Coca Eradication Goal

Peru says it is on track to eradicate 14,000 hectares of coca crops this year, the government said Thursday following the release of UN data showing that coca production increased in 2011.

Interior Minister Wilfredo Pedraza said that in the first nine months of this year Peru eradicated 10,500 hectares of coca, used to produce cocaine. In 2010 and 2011, Peru eradicated about 11,000 hectares, Pedraza said in a release.  The goal prior to 2011 was 10,000 hectares per year.

Peru announced its plan to increase eradication to 14,000 hectares in 2012, in its five-year anti-drug strategyreleased earlier this year.

Peru’s eradication program is largely financed by the U.S. government.  In 2010, the support was $30mn. “Next year we will not only continue to receive this support but President Ollanta Humala’s government will launch additional efforts so that the eradication will also have more resources from the national treasury,” Pedraza said.

Pedraza’s comments follow the release on Wednesday of data from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, UNODC, showing that Peru’s coca production has increased for a sixth straight year.

The UN said that 62,500 hectares of land were used to produce coca in 2011, up from about 61,200 hectares in the previous year. Peru is reported to have turned out 131,295 tons of dried coca leaves last year, a 1.4% increase from 2010.

Policies over the past 30 years of forced eradication of coca crops, application of alternative crop programs, destruction of coca paste sites, and intercepting traffickers have managed to contain drug production only to a certain degree.  In the early 1980s, production jumped from about 10,000 hectares to over 200,000 ha. After 1992, the reinstatement of US-funded eradication programs reduced production to around 36,000 ha by 2005, up sharply to 42,000 in 2006, and in 2009 was around 40,000 ha.     

The weakness of the eradication program —despite eradication, there are 20,000 ha more being cultivated than three years ago —lies in corruption and a lack of long-term government support and infrastructure in the intervened areas, but also because growers and traffickers seek new areas to open up, to replace those that are now being used in government-sponsored programs for alternative crops such as coffee and palm oil.  

In mid-2011, President Humala’s new administration temporarily suspended the eradication program in order to reassess the strategies and seek new solutions, but the suspension was sharply criticized by the U.S. and the Peruvian military and security specialists, and the program was reinstated within a month.

The UNODC’s representative in Peru and Ecuador, Flavio Mirella, said that about 40 percent of the world’s coca is grown in Peru, while slightly more than 40 percent is grown in Colombia. The remainder is grown in Bolivia.

One Comment

  1. Jillian Galloway says:

    American taxpayers are being forced to pay $40 Billion a year for a prohibition that causes 10,000 brutal murders & 800,000 needless arrests each year, but which doesn’t even stop CHILDREN getting marijuana.

    After seventy-five years of prohibition, it’s obvious that the federal marijuana prohibition causes FAR more harm than good and must END! Drug Dealers Don’t Card, Supermarkets Do.

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