Humala Aims to Cut Peru Coca Crop in Half by 2016, Official Says

Peru plans to cut its coca crop, the world’s largest, in half as police increase eradication of the plant that forms the base ingredient of cocaine, the government’s drugs czar said.

Eradication will reduce the crop to 32,000 hectares (79,000 acres) by 2016, the lowest in at least a decade, curbing exports of cocaine to countries such as Brazil and Spain, Carmen Masias told reporters in Lima today.

President Ollanta Humala increased spending on eradication and crop substitution after Peru overtook Colombia in 2012 to become the world’s largest grower of coca leaf, according to the United Nations. Coca cultivation fell to 54,360 hectares last year, 13 percent less than when Humala took office in 2011, as police destroyed plants at a faster pace than drug gangs replaced them, according to government estimates.

“We’re very optimistic that we’ll continue increasing the areas of eradication and reducing growing areas,” Masias said.

Peru boosted counter-narcotics spending to $387 million last year from $311 million in 2012, including $109 million in foreign aid. The government is purchasing 24 Russian helicopters to support the drugs fight.

Humala increased the target for eradication this year to 30,000 hectares from an initial 26,000 hectares, Masias said. Police for the first time will begin removing coca plants in the valley of the Apurimac, Ene and Mantaro Rivers, the largest growing area, where holdout members of the Maoist guerrilla group Shining Path remain active.

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