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Helmand poppy eradication drive to start in few days

Helmand poppy eradication drive to start in few days

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On
Feb 22, 2011 - 17:14

LASHKARGAH (PANinfo-icon): An poppy eradication campaign is due to be launched within in few days in southern Helmand province, the worldinfo-icon's largest opium producing region, the governor said on Tuesday.

"Despite stringent efforts, Helmand remains top among provinces producing poppies in Afghanistaninfo-icon," Gulab Mangal, the governor, told the head of a special counternarcotics tribunal from Kabulinfo-icon, Yar Mohammad Hussainkhel, in Lashkargah.

The campaign aims to rid 10 districts of illegal poppy fields, with the help of security forces and justice officials.

Mangal said a decrease in poppies meant a decrease in insurgency.

Poppy cultivation remains high in the province, where 40,000 farmers last year received improved quality wheat seed and fertilisers under the "Food Zone Programme".

Mangal said 540 poppy growers were arrested last year, with only 14 introduced to legal authorities.

No one had been arrested during eradication campaigns in the past, but this time growers would be put behind the bars, the governor warned.

The counter narcotics tribunal chief said a grower can get three months in jail for cultivating poppies on half an acre of land.

Hussainkhel said his visit to the province was aimed at discussing the upcoming anti-poppy campaign and any challenges.

ma/cas

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