Colombia’s coca eradication policies mark decline in global cocaine supply: UN

(Photo: Colombian government)

The Colombian government’s coca eradication initiative was highlighted by the United Nations as a reason for historic lows in the country’s cocaine production, according to latest figures released in the UN’s World Drug Report 2014. 

Corresponding with an increase in seizures of cocaine, Colombia’s production of the drug fell 25% in 2012, driving a global decline in the supply of cocaine for the year, reported the UN.

In 2012, Colombia’s government manually eradicated 85,217 acres of coca and sprayed over 247,000 acres with herbicide. As a result, the country’s potential production estimates for the year fell to 309 tonnes, the lowest levels in almost two decades, with cultivation of the coca plant cut by half from 2007 to 2012.

As the main supplier of cocaine to the United States, the UN also links the drop in Colombia’s production with a shortage of cocaine supply in the US.

Soaring costs of eradication

Colombia has seen a cost commitment to the initiative by both the administrations of former President Alvaro Uribe (2002-2010) and current President Juan Manuel Santos, with calls for the program to be redesigned to be more sustainable in terms of cost with the incoming government of 2014.

MORE: Cost of coca eradication skyrockets

“The goal is to secure comprehensive and sustainable processes of manual eradication, and [to offer the farmers] alternative development [programs] to make sure that the areas stay free of illicit crops,” explained a report from Colombia’s National Planning Department.

FARC deal on illicit drug cultivation

Illicit drug cultivation was also a key point of discussion in the Colombian government’s ongoing peace talks with the country’s largest rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The two parties reached an agreement in May to end all illicit drug operations as part of ongoing efforts to seek a deal ending 50 years of violence.

MORE: FARC agrees to end all illicit drug operations at Colombia peace talks

As a solution, both parties agreed to implement a “National Program for the substitution of the illicit uses of coca, poppy, and marijuana crops.”

“The aspiration is that all growers and the communities in those territories enter into agreements of substitution with the program that will be headed by the President of the Republic,” said President Santos in a televised speech.

The FARC is Colombia’s oldest rebel group and one of the longest surviving pioneers of drug trafficking activities since the 1970s. Drug trafficking has long fueled the guerrillas’ war against the state.


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