Bolivia, Peru Cocaine Figures Show Colombia Driving Andean Boom

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Newly released data on coca cultivation and cocaine production in Bolivia and Peru shows little significant change from last year, reinforcing the notion that booming production in Colombia is the primary factor driving an increase in the amount of the drug on the world market. 

On August 25, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) released its estimates of coca cultivation and cocaine production in Bolivia and Peru in 2016.

Bolivia experienced a 3 percent increase in coca cultivation, up from 36,500 hectares in 2015 to 37,500 hectares in 2016. And estimated cocaine production increased by 8 percent, from 255 metric tons in 2015 to 275 metric tons in 2016, according to an ONDCP press release.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Coca

Coca cultivation in Peru decreased considerably between 2015 and 2016, falling 17 percent from 53,000 hectares to 44,000 hectares. But cocaine production potential remained consistent at 410 metric tons between 2015 and 2016. 

According to the ONDCP, the drop in coca cultivation in Peru in 2016 can be attributed to the Peruvian government’s stepped up coca eradication efforts in 2015. As for the consistency in potential cocaine production, the ONDCP said that an 18 percent increase in “coca crop maturity” allowed for this stability despite fewer hectares of coca cultivation.

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While coca cultivation and cocaine production in Bolivia and Peru has remained relatively stable, the Andean region — which grows nearly all of the world’s coca — is still awash with the drug largely due to record production in Colombia. 

Colombia is producing more cocaine than ever before. Annual cocaine production rose 34 percent to 866 metric tons in 2016, while the number of hectares of coca under cultivation increased by 52 percent, from 96,000 hectares in 2015 to 146,000 hectares in 2016.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Cocaine Production

For years, Colombia has attempted to control coca cultivation through crop eradication. The country has at times combined these efforts with crop substitution programs, though these have often failed to provide adequate security measures or sustainable alternatives, giving farmers little incentive to stop coca cultivation and production.

And there appears to be a market for Colombia’s surging production of one of the world’s most popular drugs. The United States — the world’s top cocaine consumer — is seeing an increase in the number of cocaine users, according to the latest National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) from 2015. Between 2011 and 2015, the estimated number of cocaine users in the United States rose 37 percent, from 1.369 million users to 1.876 million users.

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