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Industrialization of Coca leaves in Peru

05-06-2011 13:55 BJT

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A small amount of coca leaf production in Peru is grown legally and is often used in medical provision. However the illegal sale of the leaf to drugs traffickers at a much higher price causes many problems for the ancient tradition.

Of the estimated 119,000 metric tons of coca leaf produced in Peru in a year 8 thousand metric tons are considered legal. Few companies in the world are authorized to buy and sell coca leaves legally for industrial purposes. One of these companies is ENACO, the National Coca Company of Peru.

Guillermo Gutierrez, Quillabamba Administrator, ENACO, said, "We as Enaco have three objectives to gather the coca from around the country, to control illegal commerce and the industrialization of coca."

For years Peru has argued the coca leaf is used for traditional purposes. In 1978 all farmers that cultivated coca for chewing and sold the leaves to ENACO, had their land registered for legal growth. These farmers are only allowed to sell their coca leaves to ENACO, which buys at 25 us dollars maximum for 11.5 kilos… a price the farmers argue is too low. Coca leaves are bought at 3 times that price by narcotraffickers. However ENACO argues that the price cannot go any higher, considering the expenses the company has to make during the industrialization process.

Dr. Julio Baltazar Jara, President of ENACO, said, "We are looking to commercialize the coca leaf and we are giving it added value. This is so that we can assure the survival of the traditional use of coca leaf. Second so that the farmer can receive a just price for the coca and lastly so that the world won’t confuse coca with a drug."

ENACO not only sells coca products in Peru for its traditional use but also sells it around the world. The coca leaf is a natural anesthetic and is most commonly used for eye surgery. ENACO is one of the two companies in the world to produce refined cocaine for this medical purpose. Coca syrup has also been used as a popular energizer in drinks.

Dr. Julio Baltazar Jara, President of ENACO, said, "We sell the coca leaf to an international company that evidently uses it as an ingredient for one of the most popular drinks in the world. And we sell coca teas that are very popular in Africa."

Although the industrialization of Coca leaves through ENACO is done in small quantities, the company hopes to stand as an example of what can be done with the commercialization of this natural resource.

Editor:Zhang Ning |Source: CNTV.CN

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