A Colombian peasant holds a bag of coca paste at a makeshift drug lab in Putumayo. BBC
AFP: Colombia cocaine production soars: UN
Bogota (AFP) - Colombia's cocaine production surged by nearly half its previous amount last year, United Nations experts said Friday.
The area covered with fields of green coca leaves expanded by 39 percent to 96,000 hectares, said Bo Mathiasen, Colombia representative of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime.
Colombia's consequent production of cocaine hydrochloride -- a white powder form of the drug -- rose 46 percent to 646 tonnes, Mathiasen told a news conference.
The increase in coca cultivation was partly due to the halting of crop spraying by the authorities to destroy the plants, he said.
Colombia is ranked the largest cocaine producer in the world.
Peru and Bolivia, also big producers, have 60,000 hectares of coca plantations between them, Mathiasen said.
Eduardo Diaz, a top Colombia government anti-drugs official, said coca production had surged again after easing for several years.
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WNU Editor: For as long as I can remember .... this is a war that has shown no signs of progress or success.