Bolivia’s government has announced plans to purchase excess coca that is legally produced, in order to prevent the plant falling into the hands of cocaine producers.
There are currently some 30,900 hectares of coca cultivation in Bolivia, but only 12,000 of these are allowed by law.
The minister in charge of coca eradication, Felipe Caceres, announced the plan to buy excess coca, and said that Bolivia likely needs 16,000 hectares to supply the legitimate uses of the plant, which include coca chewing, and producing medicines.
However, the government plans to eradicate only 10,900 hectares of coca, reducing the area under cultivation to 20,000. This, according to reports, is due to an agreement made by the government to let the farmers of the coca growing region of Chapare harvest a certain amount of the crop.
The government will purchase and dispose of the remaining 4,000 hectares-worth.
A report to be released September 10, will, according to Caceres, provide a comprehensive study of the coca leaf in Bolivia and determine how much coca should legally be grown.
The Bolivian government has renounced the UN’s Convention on Narcotic Drugs because of its classification of the coca leaf as an illicit substance, arguing that the chewing of coca leaves is an ancient practice among the country’s indigenous population.
However, as InSight Crime has noted, large quantities of the coca plant are grown in Bolivia to be used in the production of cocaine.