Coca crops grew 43% in Colombia in 2021, says UN

Coca crops in Colombia grew 45% in 2021, when 204 thousand hectares, compared to 143 thousand hectares accounted for in 2020, according to the annual report of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) presented this Thursday (20).

UNODC Regional Director for the Andean Region and the Southern Cone, Candice Welsch , said during the presentation of the report in Bogotá that the potential for cocaine hydrochloride production in the country is estimated to be 1,400 tons per year, which represents an increase of 14% compared to 2020.

“The production of cocaine continues to increase, a situation that has been consolidated since 2014 and which originates from the agrocultural practices carried out to optimize the production of coca leaf, a greater capacity to extract cocaine, as well as the large number of lots at highly productive ages”, argued.

These numbers, added Welsch, are the highest recorded in the 22 years that the Illicit Crop Monitoring Integrated System UNODC (Simci) has presented its annual report.

The report notes that coca cultivation in Colombia continues to be located “in the same territories with conditions of vulnerability” and that 62% of the total is concentrated in three departments: Nariño (on the border with Ecuador), Norte de Santander (on the border with Venezuela) and Putumayo (on the border with Peru and Ecuador).

“And 45% of the total amount of coca is found in only ten municipalities. In these regions, in previous years, a reduction in the coca area was reported, largely associated with the intervention of forced eradication”, explained Welsch.

However, the UNODC representative stated that “the difficulties in sustaining this type of mechanism and the lack of complementary measures to change the conditions of vulnerability resulted in an increase in the planted area in 2021”.

Another fact mentioned by Welsch is that with 22 one thousand hectares planted, the municipality of Tibú, in the troubled region of Catatumbo, in Norte de Santander, is the one with the most coca crops in Colombia.

The report also emphasizes that coca crops continue to threaten the country’s cultivation potential and its biodiversity, since almost 50% are in special management zones and “a high percentage is concentrated on the lands of black communities and in forest reserve areas”.

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