Peru has stolen Colombia’s crown as the worlds largest producer of coca leaf, according to the United Nations, which says Colombia’s drug control policy is “paying off.”
According to Antonio Maria Costa, executive director of the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), “Peru has surpassed Colombia as the world’s leading coca leaf producer.”
A U.N. report released on Tuesday shows that in 2009, 45.4% of the world’s coca leaf now comes from Peru, 39.3% from Colombia, and 15.3% from Bolivia.
The report, prepared by UNODC, shows that despite Colombian farmers planting 68,000 hectares of coca in 2009, a decrease of 16% since 2008, they only got a yield of 103,000 tons of coca leaf.
Peruvian coca farmers, on the other hand, planted 59,000 hectares of coca in 2009, a 6.8% increase since 2008, which yielded a whopping 119,000 tons of coca leaf.
The discrepancy between the hectares planted and the yield demonstrates, according to Costa, that “the drug control policy adopted by the Colombian Government over the past few years – combining security and development – is paying off.”
The report went on to mention that in addition to decreasing the coca leaf yield, Colombia also decreased the amount of cocaine produced by about 9%, to 410 metric tons. The report did not mention how many metric tons of cocaine Peru produced in 2009 because the UNODC is re-evaluating its figures due to evidence that narco-traffickers in the country are getting more “efficient in extracting” cocaine.
Despite Colombia losing its title of world’s largest coca leaf producer, it appears that it will, for the time being, still hold the crown of world’s top cocaine producer, as the 410 metric tons yielded in 2009 is much higher than the estimated 302 tons produced by Peru.
Colombia’s decreased levels of coca leaf production stem from the country’s vast illicit crop eradication program, a part of Plan Colombia, the U.S. financed, multi-billion dollar aid program aimed at fighting the drug trade and leftist insurgents in the Andean nation.