Photo: Coca leaves
The extent of coca cultivation in Peru fell by 3.4 percent last year to 60,400 hectares (about 151,000 acres), according to a joint Peruvian-U.N. report released here Tuesday.
The study, carried out by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and Peru’s Devida counternarcotics agency, found that the Peruvian government managed to eradicate a total of 14,234 hectares (about 35,585 acres) of illegal coca fields.
That represents an increase of 38 percent in the amount of coca cultivation destroyed in 2011.
The reduction in the illegal fields and plots came after authorities moved into one of the most difficult and highly-concentrated area of coca-growing, the Monzon district in the Upper Huallaga Valley, the document said.
The Upper Huallaga and the Valley of the Apurimac, Ene and Mantaro Rivers are considered to be the most “emblematic” for the production of coca from which cocaine is refined.
UNODC experts found that Peru’s production of dry coca leaf - a preliminary stage in the production of cocaine - totaled 128,739 tons in 2012, of which 119,739 tons was destined to be made into the illegal drug and 9,000 tons was for traditional consumption.
Peru, like neighboring Bolivia, allows limited cultivation of coca for use in folk remedies and Andean religious rites.
In its unaltered form, coca is a mild stimulant that relieves hunger pangs and symptoms of altitude sickness.