Peru has overtaken Colombia as the world’s main grower of coca leaves — the basic ingredient to make cocaine, the United Nations said Tuesday.
According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), some 60,400 hectares were used for the cultivation of coca in 2012.
Earlier this year, the UNODC had reported that coca cultivation in Colombia had dropped 25% to 46,000 hectares from 64,000 in 2011.
Coca cultivation in Peru dropped too, but less steeply. According to the UN report, farmland used for the production of coca dropped 3.4% in Peru.
Coca cultivation in Peru and Colombia
According to the UNODC, Peru’s coca output is less than that of Colombia despite a larger area being used for the cultivation of the coca leaf; Peru produced 142,000 tons of coca while Colombia was estimated to produce 309 tons of pure cocaine.
Peru was the world’s main producer of cocaine until 1997 when both guerrilla groups and paramilitary organizations began using drug trafficking to fund their illegal organizations.
Since then, Colombia’s coca production has relatively steadily dropped while that of Peru steadily increased.