“For the first time in over a decade aggregate coca cultivation in the Andean region, the main producer in the world, declined to 173,000 hectares,” the Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Antonio Maria Costa, told the press in Brussels today. “This decline will subtract over 100 tons of cocaine from world markets.”The results of a survey conducted by UNODC in collaboration with the Government of Colombia show that as of 31 December, 102,000 hectares of coca were cultivated, compared to 144,807 hectares the year before. However, Mr. Costa said, this significant progress would bring about new challenges of alternative crop promotion.First, Colombia’s crop reduction needs to be matched by alternative development programs to provide farmers with licit incomes,” Mr. Costa added. “Second, governments worldwide should concentrate on reducing demand and promoting drug-abuse prevention. The United Nations is fully mobilized behind such measures.”The reduction in coca cultivation was reported in the departments of Putumayo, Meta, and Caqueta, where government-sponsored eradication took place last year. Further crop reductions in Bolivar, Cauca and Vichada departments were due to voluntary eradication and abandonment of fields.