A police officer picks coca leaves as he gives a tour of an experimental coca field at Los Pijaos police training base in San Luis.
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Such drills have intensified for Colombia's military, one of the most battle-tested in the world, as it tries to control skyrocketing cocaine production that has fueled a half-century of war with leftist guerrillas.After six straight years of declining or steady production, the amount of land under coca cultivation in Colombia began rising in 2014 and jumped 42 percent last year to 159,000 hectares, according to the U.S. government. That's why the government has managed to eradicate only about 9,000 hectares of coca fields this year compared to the 172,000 hectares annually at the height of the fumigation program a decade ago.With some people warning that Colombia will soon be awash in coca because the manual eradication process moves so slowly, Santos earlier this year decided to bring back pesticides on a more limited – and what he says is safer – basis.The coca growers have little faith the government can deliver.
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