The production of coca leaves in Bolivia has dropped significantly over the last year as the government stepped up eradication efforts, according to a new UN report. The annual report, compiled by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Bolivian government, indicated a 12 percent decrease in Bolivia's cultivation of coca leaves, Reuters reported on Monday. The data showed that the area under coca cultivation dropped from 31,000 hectares in 2010 to 27,000 hectares in 2011. Coca leaves provide the main ingredient for cocaine.
Cesar Guedes, the UNODC representative in Bolivia, issued a statement thanking the Bolivian government for its drug control efforts.He also noted that coca crop eradication rose by more than a quarter to 10,500 hectares while the total coca leaf yield was reduced to around 48,100 metric tons (53,021 English tons) from 55,500 metric ton (61,178 English tons). Bolivian Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca said the findings contradicted Washington’s claims that Bolivia was not making sufficient progress in fighting the drug trade. The Andean nation ended its anti-drug cooperation with the United States in 2008. "Many people thought that, with the departure of the DEA (US Drug Enforcement Agency), coca cultivation in Bolivia would rise," Choquehuanca said. “But thanks to the determination of the Bolivian government and the support of the international community, today we are showing concrete results," he added. This is the first drop in coca leaf cultivation since President Evo Morales came to power in 2006. Morales says demand for the drug in the US and other industrialized Western nations is fuelling cocaine production and trafficking in the region. Bolivia is the world's third-biggest cocaine producer, after its Andean neighbors Peru and Colombia. MN/HGL