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  • A farmer cleans a coca crop in Cauca, Colombia, January 27, 2017.

    A farmer cleans a coca crop in Cauca, Colombia, January 27, 2017. | Photo: Reuters

Published 6 March 2019

The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), a U.N. organ, is "concerned" about the increase of coca production and manufacture in Colombia, in its latest report from data gathered in 2017. 

In Colombia, both illicit coca bush cultivation and cocaine manufacture increased in 2017 by 17 percent and 31 percent respectively, reaching an all-time high, according to the latest report of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), released Tuesday in Vienna.  

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The INCB is an independent organism and quasi-judicial expert body established for the implementation of the United Nations’ drug conventions. Its president, Viroj Sumyai, expressed “concern” about the increase and the situation in the Latin American country.

This conclusion is based on the findings from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (Unodc) 2018 report, which revealed that the area under coca cultivation in Colombia reached its highest ever recorded figure of 171,000 hectares in 2017. In contrast in 1999, when ‘Plan Colombia’ started, the area under coca cultivation was 160,000 hectares, meaning that in almost 20 years of an ongoing ‘war on drugs’ the amounts have not significantly changed.

Other findings showed that the department of Nariño, in the northwest part of the country, is the most affected area in the country and 80 percent of coca is still being grown in the same areas for the past decade.

As a response, in March 2018, both the U.S. and Colombian governments agreed on “the national implementation of a comprehensive anti-narcotics strategy that aims to reduce estimated cocaine production and coca cultivation by 50 percent by 2023”, U.S. Under Secretary of Political Affairs Thomas Shannon said during a meeting with Colombia’s foreign minister.

Even though the INCB and Undoc reports show that in 2017 cocaine seizures did increase by 20 percent, this did not have a detrimental effect on production levels. Colombia remains to be the world’s largest producer and manufacturer of cocaine, which mainly ends up in the North American market.

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