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Coca crop cultivation declines for second straight year in Bolivia – UN report

Coca plant.
Coca plant.

Coca crop cultivation declines for second straight year in Bolivia – UN report

Coca crop cultivation continued to decline in Bolivia for a second straight year in 2012, according to a new survey presented today by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Government.

In 2012, the cultivation of coca bush decreased by around 7 per cent in Bolivia, with around 25,300 hectares. This is down from the previous year’s figure of some 27,200 hectares, which was also a decline of 12 per cent from 2010.

Antonino De Leo, UNODC Representative in Bolivia, whose office has been jointly producing the annual coca monitoring survey with the Government since 2003, hailed this continuing positive trend.

Speaking at a press conference, Mr. De Leo encouraged national and local authorities to continue reducing coca crop surplus by further enhancing alternative livelihood and counter-narcotics enforcement programmes.

“UNODC will continue to offer its support to these efforts of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, facilitating and promoting regional and international cooperation for the benefit of the entire society,” he added.

According to a news release issued by the Vienna-based UNODC, satellite images and ground surveys recorded declines in the three largest coca-producing regions. Yungas de La Paz, responsible for just over two thirds of Bolivia’s coca cultivation, experienced a 7 per cent decrease to 16,900 hectares.

Meanwhile, Cochabamba Tropics, which accounts for a nearly a third of coca cultivation, registered a 6 per cent reduction to 8,100 hectares, and the northern provinces of La Paz, taking a 1 per cent share of cultivation, witnessed a 14 per cent drop to 320 hectares.

Coca cultivation is forbidden by Bolivian law in protected areas, including national parks. Overall, the country’s protected areas recorded a 9 per cent decrease in coca cultivation, from some 2,360 hectares in 2011 to around 2,150 hectares last year.

UNODC attributes the decline in coca cultivation to a combination of Government-led eradication efforts, as well as dialogue with farmers and social incentives. In 2012, the Government eradicated some 11,000 hectares of coca crop, up 5 per cent over the 2011 figure of 10,500 hectares.

The potential coca leaf yield in Bolivia was estimated at around 45,000 metric tons, down 6 per cent from the previous year’s total of 48,100 metric tons. UNODC notes that coca leaf prices decreased 5 per cent, fetching $7.4 per kilogram in the country’s two Government-authorized markets.

As a result, the total value of coca leaf also went down 7 per cent from $353 million in 2011 to $332 million in 2012. This represents 1.2 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and 13 per cent of the GDP value of the agricultural sector in 2012.