Helmand produces 53pc of world opium
Addressing a gathering in Lashkargah, Mohammad Ibrahim Azhar quoted a UN survey as saying that drug mafia earned $68 billion annually from poppy cultivation in the province.
Afghans were given only three percent of the huge profit, the official said, adding that the international community and the Afghan government were helping the province eliminate the crop.
A project for rehabilitating drug addicts would be implemented soon, he promised, urging tribal elders to shun the cultivation of the banned crop to remove the problems caused by the drug.
Under a plan being finalised by the ministry, the people growing poppies would be prosecuted, he warned.
Speaking on the occasion, Governor Mohammad Gulab Mangal acknowledged the province had the dubious distinction of being the biggest opium producer in the world.
Poppies and drugs fuelled insecurity in Helmand and much of the income ended up in militants' pockets, with ordinary growers facing the hazards, he added.
Over the past three years, the government had distributed chemical fertilisers and improved seeds to 300,000 farmers as special assistance, he said.
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