Bolivia, UN agency to cooperate on measuring coca cultivation
La Paz, Jan 26 (EFE).- The Bolivian government said Thursday that it will work with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) on a standardized approach to measure production of coca, the raw material of cocaine, which is grown legally in Bolivia in limited quantities for traditional uses in folk medicine and Andean religious rites.
Last year, the findings of UNODC and the government regarding cultivation of coca in Bolivia diverged, a result La Paz attributes to “methodological differences.”
President Luis Arce on Thursday set a target of eradicating 10,000 hectares (25,000 acres) of excess coca by the end of 2023.
“We have our own system of eradication and, of course, a sovereign struggle against narcotrafficking,” he said during a public event in a coca-growing region of the central province of Cochabamba where he was accompanied by the ministers of interior, Eduardo Del Castillo, and defense, Edmundo Novillo.
Arce said that Bolivia exceeded its eradication targets in 2021 and 2022.
In its latest report, released last year UNODC said that coca cultivation in Bolivia grew by 4 percent from 29,400 hectares in 2020 to 30,500 hectares in 2021.
The country’s leftist government, however, said that the amount of land devoted to coca decreased by 0.7 percent over the same period.
“The government of the Plurinational State of Bolivia and the UNODC have agreed to review our methodology for the coming years and can carry out joint field work” to eliminate such discrepancies, Del Castillo said.
Bolivia will continue to pursue eradication through dialogue “and must never return” to the “repression and violence” of previous right-wing administrations, he said.
Coca, a mild stimulant in its unadulterated form, has been used by Andean peoples since time immemorial to counteract hunger and the effects of high altitude. EFE ysm/dr