Colombia cocaine output down, more coca planted
By Hugh Bronstein
BOGOTA, June 18 (Reuters) – Colombian cocaine production edged down last year despite an increase in crops used to make the drug, showing that law enforcement efforts have reduced the efficiency of the business, the United Nations said on Wednesday.
U.N. investigators said the output in the world’s biggest cocaine-producing country was 600 tonnes in 2007, down 2 percent from the year before.
Planting of coca bushes used to make cocaine meanwhile rose to 99,000 hectares in 2007, up 27 percent from 2006.
Farmers are quickly replanting in more remote areas after the government sprays herbicides on their coca fields, part of a multibillion-dollar U.S.-backed program. A record 538,700 acres (218,000 hectares) of coca were eradicated last year.
“What’s happening is that the efficiency of production is going down,” said Aldo Lale-Demoz, representative in Colombia for the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime.