Peru’s Coca Crop Smallest Since 1999 as Colombia Output Surges

  • Growing areas fell 6.1 percent last year on crop erradication
  • Andean nations account for most of the world’s coca production

Peru’s coca crop fell to its lowest in 16 years in 2015 after a government eradication program destroyed a record number of bushes, curbing supply of the leaf used to make cocaine.

Growing areas dropped 6.1 percent to 40,300 hectares, declining for a fourth consecutive year, according to the United Nation’s Office on Drugs and Crime. Drug traffickers bought 90 percent of the crop and the remainder was used for traditional purposes such as brewing coca tea.

President Ollanta Humala has boosted spending on crop eradication since 2011 and in the last year increased aerial interception of planes suspected of transporting cocaine from major growing areas. The drop in Peru’s output was more than offset by a surge in Colombia’s production, which soared 39 percent to 96,000 hectares in 2015.

Peru’s clamp down on aerial smuggling may have increased drug trafficking out of the country’s main sea port Callao and from Paita in the north, the report said. At least 50 percent of cocaine bound for Europe leaves via seaports, often hidden in containers once they’ve passed custom controls, it said.

Coca growing increased in parts of the country that weren’t subject to eradication, including in protected areas of the Amazon in the southeast, the report said.

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