Peru 'to be top cocaine producer'

Coca eradication in Colombia may push up cultivation in neighbouring Peru.

    Eradication efforts in Colombia reduced
    coca production there in 2008 [EPA]

    "[This is] a tendency that could keep going up during 2009 until in 2011 we [Peru] would become a country with 70 to 75,000 hectares of coca plantations."

    Antezana said that eradication efforts in Colombia would prompt farmers in Peru and Bolivia to plant more coca.

    Balloon effect

    According to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, Peruvian cultivation of coca - the base product for cocaine - has been increasing since 1999. This includes a 4.5 per cent rise last year.

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    In Colombia, cultivation fell by 18 per cent, a cut that can be attributed to an assertive eradication plan backed by US aid of more than $5bn since 2000.

    Peru was the number one producer of coca in the late 1980s. The Andean nation then reduced output by increasing eradication programmes and limiting access to drug trafficking routes out of the country.

    This led to a large fall in Peruvian production by the late 1990s and a rise in production in Colombia - what is known as the "balloon effect".

    The eradication effects in Colombia, as well as a deal to be signed soon allowing US access to Colombian military bases to fight the drugs trade, are now threatening to reverse the trend.

    'Real changes'

    Analysts have said that a co-ordinated effort is needed in Peru to prevent rising coca production.

    "I think that what we have to look at is who our enemy is. It is the drug trafficker, that is what is clear," Romulo Pizarro, president of the National Development and Life without Drugs Commission (DEVIDA), said.

    "And we need to take clear measures on the issue, on the control of chemical use, the work of various institutions, the work of the judiciary, the institutions like those here today.

    "They have to join forces and not just think about making changes that sound good, but making real changes.

    "Because the problem with drug trafficking is one of the number one problems in Peru and we have to provide and answer to that problem."

    SOURCE: Agencies


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