Press Releases

    14 June 2005

    United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Launches Andean Coca Surveys for Bolivia, Colombia and Peru

    Executive Director Says Europe Consumes one-third of Region’s Cocaine, Calls on Member States to Step Up to Challenge

    VIENNA, 14 June (UN Information Service) -- Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), and Benita Ferrero-Waldner, Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy, European Commission, today released the 2004 Andean Coca Surveys for Bolivia, Colombia and Peru at the European Commission in Brussels. The Surveys indicate that Colombia’s 50+ per cent decline in cultivation between 2000 and 2004 remains unchallenged, but that upswings in Bolivia and Peru account for an overall increase of 3 per cent across the Andean region in 2004.

    Despite this increase, coca cultivation in the Andean region is still almost one-third less than it was in 2000.  “Efforts to reduce coca cultivation in Colombia continue to succeed,” said Mr. Costa. “In 2004, cultivation dropped by 7 per cent to 80,000 hectares. Since 2000, cultivation was reduced by half, one of the most sustained reductions in illicit crops in recent history. The increase in Bolivia and Peru is worrisome.  After the sustained decline in the Andean region during the past five years, however, it is too early to characterize the increase in 2004 as a trend reversal.”

    In 2004, coca cultivation increased in Bolivia by 17 per cent, to 27,700 hectares. The increase was mainly in the Chapare region. The 2004 level is still well below the peaks of cultivation in Bolivia during the 1990s.

    In 2004, Peru’s coca surface grew by 14 per cent to 50,300 hectares -- approximately the same area of land under cultivation in 1998.  At that time, the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Drugs and Crime called for a significant reduction in illicit crop cultivation by 2008, combined with increased support to farmers willing to switch to licit crops.  It is important to note that in six out of eight coca growing areas in Peru which benefit from alternative livelihood programmes, coca cultivation has remained stable and at lower levels than in 1998.  

    According to Mr. Costa, “This could be a turning point for the Andean region -- farmers are ready to abandon coca cultivation, if legitimate means to earn a livelihood are available. But alternative livelihoods are possible only in a stable and secure environment. It is imperative, therefore, to strengthen governance and development programmes in Peru and Bolivia, where recent increases in cultivation have occurred.“

    He added, “Member States need to step up to this challenge in tangible ways, especially in Europe, where one-third of the Andean cocaine is actually consumed.”

    UNODC data indicates that farmers involved in its alternative livelihood programmes in the Andean region are able to earn more in actual income than counterparts involved in coca cultivation. For example, in Peru, farmers involved in palm oil production have earned three times as much as farmers growing coca. In Colombia, farmers growing specialty coffees have earned 1.5 times more. In Bolivia, efforts to switch coca-growers to forest management are also gaining ground. UNODC’s alternative livelihood programmes across the Andean region now account for 206,000 hectares devoted to the cultivation of legitimate crops, as opposed to 158,000 hectares devoted to coca.

    As Mr. Costa pointed out, “Less than 0.1 per cent of the arable and forest land in all three countries is under coca cultivation. This means that, with the right support, the Andean region can beat back coca cultivation. Right now, the funds Member States contribute to UNODC for alternative livelihood programmes are less than the city of New York spends on fuel for its garbage trucks every year. We must do better.”

    Also participating at the Brussels launch were Armando Ortuño Yáñez, Ambassador of Bolivia; Nicolás Echavarría Mesa, Ambassador of Colombia; and Nils Ericsson Correa, Executive Secretary, DEVIDA (National Commission for Development and Life without Drugs), Peru. Survey results will be released today by UNODC field offices in Bolivia, Colombia, and Peru, and at the United Nations in New York and Vienna.

    For more information, contact:
    In Brussels: Piero Bonadeo, Tel: +322 289 5175
    In Vienna: Kathleen Millar, Deputy Spokesperson, UNODC
    Tel: +43 1 26060 5629, email:


    Richard Krueger, Tel: + 43 1 26060 5214


    To download the surveys, visit

    Please see attached table on cultivation of Coca bush from 1990-2004



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