HomeNewsBriefUN Says Colombia Coca Cultivation Down by 25%
BRIEF

UN Says Colombia Coca Cultivation Down by 25%

COCA / 8 AUG 2013 BY JAMES BARGENT EN

The annual United Nations report on coca cultivation in Colombia shows the number of hectares cultivated has dropped by a quarter, although this does not necessarily translate into a drop in cocaine production.

The area of coca cultivation dropped from 64,000 hectares in 2011 to 48,000 in 2012, according to the United Nations Office On Drugs and Crime (UNODC). (See full report in PDF

Throughout the year, Colombian authorities aerially eradicated 100,549 hectares and manually eradicated a further 34,486, the report said. This, when taking into account replanting in certain areas, reduced the area affected by cultivation from an estimated 135,000 to the final 48,000 figure by the end of the year.

Coca crops are now present in 23 of Colombia's 32 states or departments, as they are known in Colombia, but 80 percent of cultivation is concentrated in eight departments and around 50 percent in three departments. While production fell in 17 departments, it grew in the guerrilla strongholds of Norte de Santander and Caqueta. It also rose in Choco, where both guerrilla groups and the drug trafficking paramilitary successor groups known as the BACRIM (from the Spanish "bandas criminales" or "criminal bands") operate.

The "farm-gate" value of coca leaf and derivatives -- cocaine base and paste -- was estimated at $370 million, a drop from 2011 estimates, which stood at $422 million. Prices for base, paste and powdered cocaine remained mostly stable, seeing just small fluctuations.

The average gross income for a coca farmer was estimated at $1,220 for the year, with 60 percent of coca farmers financially dependent on the crop -- down from 82 percent in 2005. Around 30 percent of coca farmers are believed to also be involved in processing coca leaf into cocaine base.

Calculations for total cocaine production remain stable and were estimated at 309 tons. 

Colombia Coca Crops (Source: UNODC)colombia coca unodc charts

InSight Crime Analysis

The UNODC figures appear to show substantial gains for the Colombian government in its battle to eradicate coca crops. However, there are several complicating factors that may mean the drop in cultivation has not necessarily resulted in an equivalent drop in cocaine production. Put simply, the question is: how are estimates for cocaine production relatively stable while those for cultivation have dropped by a quarter?

One of these is the number of yields per year. While the UN notes annual yields have been falling since 2005, it offers no precise figures, and in some areas coca crops are known to now produce up to six yields a year.

Another factor is the introduction of superior coca strains, which has higher alkaloid content and so can produce more cocaine per ton of leaf. Higher yield means less area needs to be cultivated to produce similar total amounts. 

Lastly, there are questions about the methodology of the study. It is well known that the aerial photographs are taken on the last two days of the year, and, as La Silla Vacia points out, the Colombian government concentrates its eradication efforts during the period leading up to these photos, effectively skewing the results. colombia coca unodc wholecountry

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

COLOMBIA / 12 MAR 2018

Recent congressional elections in Colombia brought victory to a slate of candidates opposed to a 2016 peace deal between the…

COLOMBIA / 19 SEP 2013

Neo-paramilitary criminal gangs are the greatest threat to Colombians trying to reclaim stolen land, according to US NGO Human Rights…

COLOMBIA / 9 OCT 2013

Authorities in Colombia have seized more than $6 million of property from the FARC, as the government exerts…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela El Dorado Investigation Makes Headlines

3 DEC 2021

InSight Crime's investigation into the trafficking of illegal gold in Venezuela's Amazon region generated impact on both social media and in the press. Besides being republished and mentioned by several…

THE ORGANIZATION

Gender and Investigative Techniques Focus of Workshops

26 NOV 2021

On November 23-24, InSight Crime conducted a workshop called “How to Cover Organized Crime: Investigation Techniques and A Focus on Gender.” The session convened reporters and investigators from a dozen…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Names Two New Board Members

19 NOV 2021

In recent weeks, InSight Crime added two new members to its board. Joy Olson is the former executive director of the Washington Office on Latin America…

THE ORGANIZATION

Senate Commission in Paraguay Cites InSight Crime

12 NOV 2021

InSight Crime’s reporting and investigations often reach the desks of diplomats, security officials and politicians. The latest example occurred in late October during a commission of Paraguay's Senate that tackled…

THE ORGANIZATION

Backing Investigative Journalism Around the Globe

5 NOV 2021

InSight Crime was a proud supporter of this year's Global Investigative Journalism Conference, which took place November 1 through November 5 and convened nearly 2,000 journalists…