Despite efforts, Peru’s coca-growing areas still growing, says UN

(LIP-jl) — According to its annual report, the United Nations says the amount of land used to cultivate coca, the primary ingredient used to produce tea (consumed in the Andes) and cocaine -and its many forms, has increased and is the world’s second largest producer of the coca plant.

The report released by the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime in Lima indicated a 7 percent growth in the amount of Peruvian land used to grow the often illicit crop, maintaining the Andean nation as the world’s second largest coca plant grower behind Colombia.

The area dedicated to coca cultivation increased from 120,000 acres registered in 2005 to 128,500 acres registered during 2006.

Aldo Lale-Demoz, head of the U.N. Office on Drug and Crime in Lima, Peru, informed that Peru’s coca plant cultivation growth was mainly concentrated in the Alto Huallaga River Valley (San Martin/Huanuco) and the Aguaytia River regions.

Other areas that reported significant gains in cultivation areas were located in the surroundings of the following rivers: the Marañon-Putumayo-Amazonas, Apurimac-Ene, La Convención-Lares, Palcazu-Pichis-Pachitea, San Gabán, and the Inambari-Tambopata.

The report also indicated that the total amount of harvested coca plants represented a potential cocaine production of 310 tons, an 8% jump from 2005 estimates.