Coca survey reveals 14% fall in acreages

20 July 2015

The latest UN figures for coca planting in Peru, released on 15 July, show that acreages were down at the end of 2014 by nearly 14%. Colombia, where production appears to have increased in 2014, has once again dislodged Peru from its position as the world largest coca producer.

The total area estimated to be planted with coca bushes in Peru was 42,900 hectares compared with 49,800 hectares a year earlier. According to government officials, the drop was due to intensification of crop eradication activities, especially in areas such as the upper Huallaga valley, Aguaytía, and Pichis Palcazú-Pachitea. Overall, in these areas, acreages were down by as much as 60%. However, in the valleys of the Apurímac, Ene and Mantaro, the so-called VRAEM, as well as in Lares-La Convención and Tambopata, acreages remained stable.

The VRAEM alone accounts for almost two-thirds of Peru’s production of sun-dried coca leaf, used in the manufacture of cocaine. The continued presence of Sendero Luminoso in the area, which helps producers defend themselves against government eradicators, has rendered eradication difficult. Yields of coca in this area are also substantially higher than the national average. Much of the production of cocaine from the VRAEM is now shipped out to the European and South American market through Bolivia.

UNODC notes that prices of sun-dried coca leaf in 2014 remain well above their average levels for the 2008-12 period, reflecting growing demand and the reduction in supply. The government’s success in reducing acreages in areas like the upper Huallaga reflects, in part, its success in reducing Sendero Luminoso’s presence in this a former stronghold.

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