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Coca production in Andean region rises 3 per cent in 2004 – UN survey

Coca production in Andean region rises 3 per cent in 2004 – UN survey

Antonio Costa
Coca production in the three countries comprising the Andean region rose by an overall 3 per cent in 2004, with "worrisome" output increases in Bolivia and Peru offsetting a sharp decline in Colombia, according to a United Nations survey.

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) reported in its 2004 Andean Coca Surveys for Bolivia, Colombia and Peru, that coca cultivation fell by 50 per cent in Colombia since 2000, and despite the slight overall increase in the region last year, coca cultivation in the Andean region is still a third less than it was in 2000.

"The increase in Bolivia and Peru is worrisome. After the sustained decline in the Andean region during the past five years, however, it is too early to characterize the increase in 2004 as a trend reversal," UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa said today launching the reports from European Commission headquarters in Brussels.

Coca cultivation increased by 17 per cent to 27,700 hectares in Bolivia – mainly in the Chapare region – during 2004, the statement said, adding, the 2004 level is still well below the peaks seen during the 1990s.

Peru's coca surface grew by 14 per cent in 2004 to 50,300 hectares, which was approximately the same area of land under cultivation in 1998.

Mr. Costa called on Member States, especially in Europe where one-third of Andean cocaine is consumed, to step up efforts to foster alternative livelihood programmes aimed at steering farmers away from coca cultivation.

"Less than 0.1 per cent of the arable and forest land in all three countries is under coca cultivation. This means that, with the right support, the Andean region can beat back coca cultivation," Mr. Costa said in the statement.