Peru is reportedly set to eradicate a record amount of drug crops this year, though it remains to be seen if this will actually cut the growing area of the country under coca cultivation.
In an announcement to the press on October 20, Peruvian Interior Minister Wilfredo Pedraza claimed that the country was on course to eradicate some 14,000 hectares of coca, poppy and marijuana crops this year, reported La Republica. He added that the number will be a record for Peru.
Pedraza pointed to the expansion of eradication efforts outside of typical production areas — such as the Apurimac and Ene River Valley (VRAE) — to regions such as Cajamarca and La Libertad, as evidence of the state’s successes in removing illicit cultivations from its territory.
The goal for 2013, Pedraza stated, was to up eradication levels by a further 2,000 hectares to 16,000 hectares.
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The vast majority of the eradicated crops are likely to be plantations of coca, the country’s main illicit crop. Statistics released by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) last month on coca leaf cultivation shows 10,290 hectares were eradicated last year. Only 21 hectares of poppy plantations were eradicated in Peru 2010, according to UNODC’s 2012 World Drug Report, which states the country is not a major marijuana producer.
However, there is little evidence that 2012’s eradication efforts will have much effect on the overall level of coca cultivation. UNODC data showed a year-on-year increase in hectares devoted to cultivation since 2006, totalling 62,500 last year.
For this reason, it’s not clear that even next year’s target to eradicate 16,000 hectares will cause real disruption to Peru’s drug trade.