Fields of poppy

Enterprise - - Letters -

A new UN re­port has con­firmed that the fi­nan­cial might of the Afghan Tal­iban is pos­si­bil­ity stronger than ever. The re­port, re­leased by the UN Of­fice on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), has con­firmed that the area cul­ti­vated in Afghanistan for the pro­duc­tion of opium in­creased by 10 per­cent this year. The to­tal area for opium cul­ti­va­tion in­creased from 183,000 hectares last year to 201,000 hectares this year amidst a clear weak­en­ing of both in­ter­na­tional and na­tional ef­forts to curb the drug trade in the coun­try. Opium pro­duc­tion it­self in­creased by 43 per­cent to reach 4,800 tonnes in a year where the weather favoured high crop yields. Com­bined with ris­ing in­se­cu­rity and lower lev­els of com­mit­ment from in­ter­na­tional donors, opium is back on the rise as a ma­jor cash crop in Afghanistan. Opium pro­duc­tion reached a new peak in 2013 and 2014 as counter-nar­cotics ef­forts in the coun­try seem to have com­pletely failed.

Not only has Afghanistan’s in­abil­ity to curb the drug trade fuelled the Tal­iban’s war against the Afghan gov­ern­ment, the coun­try is also suf­fer­ing from a se­vere drug cri­sis as youth in the war-rav­aged coun­try turn to drugs to es­cape the hor­rors of ev­ery­day life. The fail­ure of 15 years of ef­forts to curb the pro­duc­tion of opium in the coun­try is also clear. Use of force to burn down opium fields has not worked in a coun­try where the econ­omy has never re­cov­ered from al­most 40 years of con­stant war. In this con­text, it is not dif­fi­cult to see why opium re­mains the crop of choice for so many farm­ers in Afghanistan. It is the only crop which guar­an­tees a steady in­come and is prob­a­bly one of the few eco­nomic sec­tors which shows growth.

Asif Alam, Gu­jran­wala.

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