Afghanistan sees rise in poppy cultivation

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Afghanistan sees rise in poppy cultivation

A report  from the UN claims that opium production has increased by seven percent over last year despite counter-anti-narcotics programmes.

Aljazeera reports: Opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan has reached a record high this year, a UN report has revealed, highlighting the failure of the US-led campaign to crack down on the lucrative crop.

The total area under cultivation was about 224,000 hectares (553,500 acres) in 2014, a seven percent increase on last year, according to the Afghanistan Opium Survey released by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime.

Just 74,000 hectares was being used to grow poppies in 2002, a year after the Taliban regime was toppled.

The survey said that potential opium production was estimated at 6,400 tonnes in 2014, a rapid increase of 17 percent from 2013, but not as high as the record 7,400 tonnes produced in 2007.

“The country is having to stand on its own feet [and] … will have to deal with this criminalisation of its economics and politics as a matter of priority,” Jean-Luc Lemahieu, director of policy analysis at UNODC, said.

The UN survey said the “farm-gate” value of opium in Afghanistan was about $0.85bn – four percent of the country’s GDP – while just 2,692 hectares of poppy fields were eradicated in 2014 – a 63 percent drop from the previous year.

Despite a decade of costly US and international counter-narcotics programmes, poppy farming has expanded in the south and west regions, which include the most volatile parts of the country where the Taliban insurgency is the strongest.

Niamh Harris
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