Poppy eradication drive launched in Kandahar
KANDAHAR (PAN): A poppy eradication campaign has started in the southern province of Kandahar, officials said.
The drive to rid the province of opium poppies started on Wednesday in Sang Hisar area of Zheri district and would extent to other districts soon, the governor Toryalai Weesa, told Pajhwok Afghan News.
Weesa went to the area with a delegation from the ministry of counternarcotics.
Poppy cultivation had decreased in Kandahar recently because farmers had received better seeds and chemical fertilizer, but there were still some farmers planting poppies, he said. The cold weather and lack of water had helped to destroy some of the poppies, but the eradication drive was still needed, he said.
“There are no statistics for how much land is under poppy cultivation, but I would say that it is less than before,” director of counternarcotics department, Gul Mohammad Shokran, said.
The eradication drive, which started in the warmer districts of Kandahar, by the Afghan National Army, Afghan National Police and Civil Order Police, would continue for two months, he said.
Over the past three months, the government has been in control of much of the district. Before, drug traffickers and militants would force farmers to grow poppies in their fields, Zheri district chief, Niaz Mohammad Sarhadi, said.
Now, about 80 percent of the land is grape orchards and people grow poppies in a small percentage of their fields, he said.
During the winter aid distribution campaign, chemical fertilizers were distributed to 2,479 farmers and each farmer receive nine, 50-kilogram bags of Di Ammonium Phosphate and five bags of Urea, he said.
Residents of the district said that few people cultivated the poppy crop anymore because they had been told that if the government found out about it, they would have their harvests destroyed.
The crop was still cultivated in some remote areas of the district, a resident of Pashmol area of the district, Syed Jan, said.
If the government wants the farmers to stop growing poppies, they need to provide improved seed varieties and other facilities too, he said.
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