The area used for coca cultivation and Colombia’s potential cocaine production soared to record heights in 2021, according to the United Nations.
In its annual report, the UN’s Office on Drugs and Crime registered a 43% increase in coca cultivation, which reached 204,000 hectares.
The potential cocaine production was 1,400 metric tons, by far the highest number in history.
Based on police interdiction numbers, Colombia’s potential cocaine exports would have increased to 731 metric tons.
Potential cocaine exports
The UN’s monitoring also revealed changing cultivation and production methods, according to UNODC Americas director Candice Welsch.
In an interview with newspaper El Espectador, Welsch said coca cultivation is increasingly concentrated along the Pacific coast in the west, the border with Ecuador in the south and the border with Venezuela in the east.
Welsh also said that drug traffickers increasingly depend on industrial coca plantations rather than small plots managed by ordinary farmers.
The increased production of cocaine coincided with a global increase in demand for the illicit drug, particularly in the United States and Europe.
President Gustavo Petro, who took office in August, has promised radical changes in the government’s drug policy, which would include far-reaching rural reforms and investments in economic development.
Petro has additionally called on other countries to end the prohibition of drugs, which would allow a regulation of the cocaine trade that’s been a major player in the Colombian economy since the 1970’s.