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April 14, 2006
Rafael Lemaitre: (202) 395–6618


(Washington, D.C.)—The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) released the following statement regarding the annual survey of coca cultivation in Colombia:

This year we are reporting mixed results for the U.S. government's just concluded annual survey of coca cultivation in Colombia.

  • Coca cultivation declined by 8 percent, from 114,100 to 105,400 hectares, when those areas surveyed by the US government in 2004 were compared with the same areas in 2005

  • Nevertheless, the survey also found 144,000 hectares of coca under cultivation in 2005 in a search area that was 81 percent larger than that used in 2004. The potential production for the 144,000 hectares of coca found by this year's survey is 545 metric tons of pure cocaine

In an effort to improve the accuracy and comprehensiveness of the estimate, this year's survey expanded by 81 percent the size of the landmass that was imaged and sampled for coca cultivation. The newly imaged areas show about 39,000 additional hectares of coca. Because these areas were not previously surveyed, it is impossible to determine for how long they have been under coca cultivation. Because of this uncertainty and the significantly expanded survey area, a direct year-to-year comparison is not possible. The higher cultivation figure in this year's estimate does not necessarily mean that coca cultivation increased in the last year; but rather reflects an improved understanding of where coca is now growing in Colombia. While we are disappointed that so much coca has been found to be growing outside our 2004 survey area, we are confident that we will be able to work closely with the Government of Colombia to focus eradication efforts on these areas.

The 2005 report reveals two clear trends:

  • First, where spraying occurs, coca growers have not kept up. This provides some explanation of why they have vigorously sought to expand coca cultivation areas. According to the same U.S. Government estimate, areas where aerial eradication was employed show at least a 10 percent net reduction, as farmers abandon fields or replant less than the initial area under cultivation.

  • Second, the survey shows that coca growth is emerging in previously surveyed areas where spraying has not occurred in the past—with at least a 12 percent increase in cultivation during 2005.

Colombia, with U.S. assistance, sprayed almost 139,400 hectares of coca in 2005. The Government of Colombia also reported that about 32,000 hectares were eradicated manually in Colombia. The effect of the coca eradication program was to reduce the amount of production in traditional growing areas and force producers, which include illegal armed groups such as the FARC, to more isolated fields where expenses associated with transportation and start-up increase the production cost and reduce potential profit.

For more information visit www.WhiteHouseDrugPolicy.gov

Last Updated: April 14, 2006