Colombia was nearing the target of 130,000 hectares less dedicated to coca cultivation set for 2020, Defence Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo said on Monday.
“With 98,056 hectares of coca eradicated as of October 24, the Public Forces progress towards the target of 130,000 hectares eradicated in 2020,” Trujillo said in a tweet, adding that 101,273 hectares were eradicated in 2019.
The defence minister also praised authorities for seizing some 388 tons of cocaine hydrochloride, coke’s purified chemical, as of October 15, which was a 13-per-cent increase compared to the same period in 2019.
He added that 462 tons of coca leaves and 51 tons of cocaine paste were seized.
In June, President Ivan Duque and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) warned that while Colombians were growing coca on less area overall than last year, the production of cocaine has nevertheless increased.
The government’s efforts to eradicate coca plants and to help farmers substitute them with other crops contributed to the steepest drop in six years, Duque said at the time.
But despite coca being cultivated on a smaller area, potential cocaine production went up by 1.5 per cent to 1,137 metric tons, UNODC representative Pierre Lapaque said, attributing the greater productivity to coca farming becoming concentrated in specific enclaves.
The Andean country is one of the world’s top cocaine producers.