Afghanistan pro­duc­ing more drugs

7 Days in Dubai - - BUSINESS -

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.

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