By Dialogo October 19, 2010 President Evo Morales on 17 October urged farmers growing coca — the source plant for cocaine — to respect production limits because the excess crop was being funnelled to the illegal drug trade. Morales, 50, is a former head of the powerful coca farmer’s union in the Chapare region, the heart of Bolivia’s coca growing region. “Part of our coca goes to the illegal market” for the production of cocaine, Morales told a meeting of some 1,000 delegates of various regional coca growing unions. Coca has been grown legally for centuries in the Andean nations, where locals use it for medicinal purposes. Chewing coca produces a mild narcotic effect that helps combat altitude sickness in the high mountain range. Coca growers have been pressing their union leaders to demand higher official production quotas. “If the whole production went to the legal market, there would be no problem, but some of it is being diverted,” Morales said. Bolivia legally allows 12,000 hectares (30,000 acres) of coca bushes to be planted, but currently more than double that amount — some 30,500 hectares (75,400 acres) — are under cultivation, according to figures from the Organization of American States (OAS). Forty-five percent of the world’s coca leaf production comes from neighboring Peru, according to a June report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). Nearly 40 percent is grown in Colombia, and 15 percent is grown in Bolivia, according to the report. Colombia remains the largest source for processed cocaine, and United States and Europe are the main cocaine-consuming markets, according to the UN report.
Pat Fahy believes the return to a right-handed track could help Western Boy close the gap on those who finished in front of him at Cheltenham if they meet again at Punchestown. Press Association Western Boy claimed a creditable seventh, beaten just over 10 lengths, by Vautour in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, but jumped markedly out to his right at the final two flights. The Evening Herald Champion Novice Hurdle on April 29 could see the pair meet again and Fahy is hopeful of his charge getting a bit closer at Punchestown. “Jumping out to his right like he did can’t have helped,” said Fahy. “Having a rail on his inside, rather than his outside, will be a big help I’d have thought. “The good thing about him is that he goes on any ground. He handles the soft and goes on quicker ground so that’s a big plus. “Originally I thought he’d be a horse we could take to Galway on the Flat for the GPT, but at the moment we’ll stick to the original plan and stay over hurdles. “They were breaking records on the first day last week and he was jumping right-handed and still not beaten far. He’s not slow and has plenty of pace.”