Bolivia president Morales promises to increase coca production
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Bolivia president Morales promises to increase coca production

Bolivian President Evo Morales has promised to support an increase in coca production if he wins a third presidential term in October elections.

In a speech to union members in the Chapare region Sunday, Morales said that the country needs a new law governing coca crops. He added that the country needs oversight from both civil society and the government to ensure that the laws are followed.

During the meeting, Morales was also re-elected to another two-year term as the head of six federations of coca growers in the region, one of his primary political bases.

The current law in Bolivia allows cultivation of 30,000 acres of coca leaf for traditional use, all of it in the western part of the country. However, the U.N. drug monitoring agency has estimated that Bolivia currently has almost 57,000 acres in use for coca production.

The Morales administration has repeatedly proposed increasing the legal territory permitted for coca production to 49,400 acres, even after a government-sponsored study released last year concluded that Bolivia could meet its legal demand for coca with only 36,300 productive acres.

Coca leaf is traditionally used in Bolivia as part of religious rituals or to combat fatigue and the effects of altitude. Much of the illicit coca crops are used for cocaine production.

Additional reporting by Associated Press