Coca cultivation rose in Colombia in 2011after seven years of stagnation, said an as of yet unpublished report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, reported Colombian newspaper El Tiempo Monday.
According to the unpublished report, around 158,150 acres were used for coca cultivation in 2011, an increase by around 2,000 acres compared to the numbers from 2010. Coca cultivation had previously decreased every year since 2005.
As coca is the raw material used in the production of the illegal substance cocaine, the Colombian government received the report with “concern,” Colombia’s W Radio reported.
The UN report said that drug production in Colombia was increasingly concentrated in the border regions with Venezuela and Ecuador.
The regions that registered the greatest increases in coca cultivation were Catatumbo, near the Venezuelan border, and Chocó, Colombia’s westernmost department on the Pacific coast. Both these regions have been considered hotbeds of left-wing rebel movements like FARC and ELN and neo-paramilitary groups like Los Rastrojos and Los Urabeños.
The report stated that the Catatumbo region alone had over 9,880 acres of coca cultivation in 2011, although the Colombian government only acknowledged 4,940 of those.
Colombian newspaper El Tiempo wrote that the manual eradication of coca crops by security forces had decreased from 108,700 acres in 2010 to 84,000 acres in 2011. The decrease was attributed to fewer resources allocated to the anti-narcotics practice.
According to the report, aerial fumigation continued to be high — 254,500 acres of coca were reportedly sprayed in 2011, 4,940 more than in 2010.
Among the suggestions given to the Colombian state was that manual eradication should be concentrated in areas where the largest concentration of coca crops were found. This would mean that the mobile eradication groups would not have to travel the entire country, but instead consolidate efforts in specific regions.