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    Poppy cultivation declines in Paktia

    GARDEZ (PAN): Poppy cultivation has been on the decline in southeastern Paktia province since 2006, an official said on Saturday.

    A ban imposed on cultivating the illicit crop was the main reason for the decrease in opium yield, the counternarcotics department chief said.

    Eng. Hafeezullah Ahmadzai told Pajhwok Afghan News security forces and elders supported counter-narcotics efforts in the province.

    The Counternarcotics Ministry had granted $ 4.5 million to the province, Ahmadzai said. Farmers would be given seeds and chemical fertiliser to help them grow alternative crops, he promised.

    According to the director, 80 percent of Paktika land was used for poppy cultivation before 2006. However, over the past five years, the area has been brought down to zero.

    Residents complain although they have abandoned poppy cultivation, the government is yet to give them any assistance.