Peru Seeks To Decrease Coca Production By 30% In 2016

Peru’s government approved on Tuesday a five-year national plan that aims to decrease the production of illegal coca by 30% in 2016, and strengthen alternative and sustainable development in the coca-growing valleys.

Premier Oscar Valdes’ office said in a statement that the strategy, which was created by Peru’s anti-drug agency Devida, involves eradicating 14,000 hectares of coca in 2012, 18,000 hectares in 2013, and 22,000 hectares in 2014.

In 2015, Peru aims to eradicate 26,000 hectares and in 2016 the goal is to eradicate 30,000 hectares. “These goals will contribute to reducing illegal coca production by 30% by 2016,” the premier’s office said in a statement.

In 2011, Peru eradicated about 10,000 hectares of coca, following the goals of previous years. Over the past 20 years, however, the expansion in coca-growing areas has been greater than the eradication goals. 

Coca is the raw material used to make cocaine. It is grown legally in some parts of Peru for traditional uses, such as for chewing and for tea, however the vast majority of the crops are sold to drug traffickers.

Peru is one of the world’s biggest producers of coca, along with Colombia. Bolivia is also a major producer.

In addition to eradication, the Devida anti-drug plan is to focus on stepping up control of chemical inputs used in cocaine production (kerosene, hydrochloric and sulphuric acid), and a strong emphasis on alternative development programs as well as prevention of drug consumption and rehabilitation for drug users.

In terms of alternative development, the government said that it aims to provide these programs to some 68,000 families this year. It aims to increase the number of families that benefit from alternative development by 4,000 each year, reaching 84,000 families by 2016.

Alternative crop programs require not only long-term technical and logistics assistance for farmers but a guaranteed and easy access to markets and the possibilities of good prices for their products.  Most farmers who choose to grow coca do so because the hardy bush needs little if any care and the leaves fetch a good price in the illegal market.

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