15 May 2003

UNODC Survey Shows no Evidence of Major Shift in Coca Cultivation from Colombia to Peru

VIENNA, 15 May (UN Information Service) -- A new United Nations survey reveals that coca cultivation has remained stable in Peru, dispelling fears of a possible shift in coca growing from neighbouring Columbia where a considerable decline in cultivation was recently registered.

The survey conducted by the Government of Peru and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) reported 46,700 hectares of coca under cultivation in Peru as of 31 December 2002. This is a one per cent increase over the 2001 survey results. The release of the survey on Peru comes two months after the UNODC published its Colombia report that showed a 30 percent reduction compared to the 2001 data, which itself represented a 37 percent decline as compared to 2000.

Peru's stable coca surface, coupled with Colombia's recent significant decline, explains why for the first time in over a decade aggregate coca cultivation in the Andean region (Colombia, Peru and Bolivia) dropped by 17 per cent to 173,100 hectares. This compares with the 211,000 hectares under coca cultivation in 2001, the 209,000 hectares five years earlier, or the 206,000 hectares recorded in 1991.

Despite the current development, UNODC's Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa warns that "Peru needs a strategy that will decrease the attractiveness to farmers to grow coca leaf. This means more alternative development, aerial and land drug interdiction and precursor control." The pressure to shift cultivation from Colombia to Peru is expected to remain. Also, as Mr. Costa points out "we detect at present a tendency in Peru toward higher productivity in coca cultivation, resulting in more dense planting and greater use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides." The environmental damage arising from this latter practice is already considered serious.

The Peru report is a result of a comprehensive national survey making extensive use of satellite imagery, aerial photography and field verification, which started in 1998.

UNODC's Illicit Crop Monitoring Programme currently focuses on seven national monitoring projects -- Afghanistan, Myanmar, Lao PDR, Colombia, Peru and Bolivia and Morocco. It is estimated that well over 90 per cent of illicit opium and coca originate from those six countries.

Coca cultivation in Peru, 1992-2002
Sources: US CNC, UNODC

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For the full report please see: http://www.unodc.org

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For more information, please contact:
United Nations Information Service Vienna (UNIS)
Tel.: (43-1) 26060 4666
Fax: (43-1) 26060 5899
Email: UNIS@unvienna.org