In 2022, coca farming in Colombia grew by nearly 13%. A new record of 230,000 hectares was set, says a UN report.
Before, in 2021, 204,000 hectares were under cultivation. That was a 43% rise from 2020.
Even if the growth rate slowed, it’s still the highest since the UN began tracking in 2001. Cocaine output also increased.
Colombia produced 1,738 tons, mostly sent to the U.S. and Europe.
Since 2014, coca farming has consistently risen. This is despite long-term efforts to curb drug trafficking.
The U.S. has funded these efforts, and Colombia signed a peace deal with FARC rebels in 2016.
The report finds that nearly half of the coca farms are in areas of Black and indigenous communities.
Colombia remains the world leader in coca farming. It’s far ahead of Peru and Bolivia. Most new farms appeared in Putumayo, near the Ecuador border.
President Gustavo Petro criticized the failing drug war. He has called for a new approach from the U.S.
He wants focus on cutting demand in richer countries. A recent summit with Latin leaders discussed this. They want a more complete strategy against drugs.
From 2012 to 2022, over 840,000 hectares of coca were forcibly removed. But the farmed area grew by 327%.
Ongoing violence complicates the situation. By 2026, the government aims to reduce cocaine output to 900 tons and coca fields to 150,000 hectares.
Colombia has been the focal point of anti-drug efforts for decades. The U.S. has poured money into “Plan Colombia” since 2000 to fight drug trafficking.
Despite these efforts, drug production continues to climb. Some argue that the focus on suppression rather than demand reduction is flawed.
The peace deal with FARC in 2016 raised hopes. People thought it would reduce coca farming.
Yet, smaller groups have filled the void left by FARC. A holistic approach, combining law enforcement and social programs, could offer a more sustainable solution.