Poppy cultivation in south could fall: UN
The expected decrease is linked to a slightly lower level of poppy cultivation in Helmand and Kandahar province, the largest opium-producing region in the world, according to the UNODC Opium Winter Rapid Assessment Survey (ORAS).
Jean-Luc Lemahieu, the UNODC Country Office Representative in Afghanistan, said: "This is only an indicator and government policy can stimulate further decline."
With a significant poppy cultivation increase expected in Herat, Kapisa and Ghor provinces, the survey said Helmand had shown decreasing cultivation trends over the last three years. The cultivation in that province fell from 103,590 hectares in 2008 to 65,045 hectares in 2010.
For 73 percent of respondents in the north and 77 percent in the south, the driving force behind poppy cultivation in 2011 was the "high sales price of opium". The dry and fresh opium price jumped between February 2010 and February 2011 by 306 percent and 251 percent respectively.
"In the south a direct correlation between insecurity, lack of agricultural aid and poppy cultivation could be established. Some 90 per cent of villages in the south with poor security are involved in poppy cultivation," the survey said.
In the north, 94 percent of respondents termed village-level good or very good. "Let's not forget that this latest survey is a prediction, a weather forecast, and that the exact situation will only be known later in the year, once the estimation from satellite images are completed," said Lemahieu.
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