Peru reports much slower growth of coca plant cultivation than U.S. saw

Reuters | Updated: 02-12-2020 05:23 IST | Created: 02-12-2020 05:23 IST
Peru reports much slower growth of coca plant cultivation than U.S. saw

Cultivation of the coca plant used to make cocaine slowed last year in Peru, the world's leading producer of the narcotic along with Colombia, Peru's anti-drug agency said on Tuesday in a report that contradicted the latest U.S. government findings.

Devida said coca cultivation increased 1% in 2019 to 54,655 hectares, mostly in areas where drug traffickers work together with rebel groups, but this constituted a slowdown from the 8.5% growth in areas cultivated in 2018. Devida's findings differ from those released in a U.S. government report in July, which said there had been 72,000 hectares of coca cultivation in Peru in 2019, up 38% from the previous year.

The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) also warned of a 40% increase in cocaine production to 705 tonnes in 2019 and appealed to the Peruvian government to deliver "concrete reverse the harmful trend of rising coca cultivation." Devida responded in August that the U.S. report had not taken into account what it said were record volumes of coca leaf crops uprooted as part of a government anti-drug campaign, nor the traditional consumption of coca leaf that is not converted to cocaine.

Devida's executive president, Fidel Pintado Pasapera, said on Tuesday that this year's data was at district level which would enable drug enforcement agencies to better target their interventions. The Devida report also highlighted that in Peru's VRAEM region, an Andean and jungle region in central Peru the size of Puerto Rico where almost 70% of the country's cocaine is produced, coca cultivation was 28,628 hectares in 2019, compared to 30,023 hectares in 2018.

Drug trafficking gangs operate in the VRAEM, acting in alliance with remnants of the Shining Path rebel group. Peru and the United States have spent years investing in programs aimed at helping coca farmers switch to alternative crops, mainly coffee and cacao.

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(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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