Afghanistan producing more drugs
Afghanistan has witnessed an increase of 10 per cent in opium poppy cultivation and 91 per cent decrease in eradication across the country, according to a new joint survey released by the UN and Afghan government.
The report released yesterday showed the total area under cultivation in Afghanistan at an estimated 201,000 hectares in 2016, a 10 per cent increase from the 183,000 hectares in 2015. It said no eradication took place in provinces with high levels of opium poppy cultivation due to the extremely poor security situation in those areas, as well as logistical and financial challenges.
Overall, the potential opium production in Afghanistan increased 43 per cent, with 4,800 tonnes this year compared to 3,300 tonnes in 2015, Salamat Azimi, Afghan counter-narcotics minister, said in a joint news conference with the UN in Kabul.
“It is very disturbing to see a considerable increase in poppy cultivation in the north, which may be linked with a deteriorating security situation in the region,” said Andrey Avetisyan, head of United Nation Office for Drug and Crime (UNODC) in Afghanistan.
Avetisyan said there was one less poppy-free province this year, northern Jawzjan province, bringing the total number of poppy-free provinces down to 13 of the country’s 34 provinces.
However, he said he was “in way satisfied that in a very difficult year as this one, in terms of security and challenges, we have witnessed only a 10 percent overall increase in cultivation and decrease in many traditionally high cultivated provinces in the south”.
The Taliban, which has been waging war against the Afghan government since 2001, are heavily involved in poppy cultivation and opium distribution.
Billions of dollars have been spent on counter- narcotics efforts in Afghanistan in the past decade, including programmes encouraging farmers to switch to other cash crops, such as wheat, fruit and saffron.
General Baz Mohammad Ahmadi, deputy interior minister for the counter narcotic police, said his forces have conducted 1,263 operations this year, in which they arrested 1,408 opium traffickers, including government employees.
SEEDS: More land is being used to grow poppies