Home Agriculture Satellite imagery aids U.N. to gauge rise of cocaine production in South...

Satellite imagery aids U.N. to gauge rise of cocaine production in South America

South America’s cocaine output rose by 2 percent last year, bucking a five year downward trend as increases in Peru and Bolivia outpaced Colombia’s clampdown on cocaine cultivation, according to an U.N. report. The U.N. said its main source for data on coca production was satellite imagery of the production areas, backed by plane and helicopter observation and work on the ground with local authorities, including interviews with farmers and field studies.

Cocaine production rose 35 percent in Bolivia and 23 percent in Peru from 2003 to 2004, while falling 11 percent in Colombia, according to the annual survey from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. The U.N.’s top counter-narcotics official blamed political unrest in Bolivia and lawlessness in two Peruvian regions for the increase in coca leaf cultivation and cocaine production there. Colombia remains the world’s major source of cocaine, producing 430 tons last year according to the U.N. report. However, Peru and Bolivia are catching up with a combined total of 327 tons.