Opium cultivation up for 3rd year in a row
“It is in the best interest of countries in the region with high levels of opium-product abuse to support Afghanistan's counter-narcotics efforts. This includes Afghanistan's immediate neighbors, Iran, Pakistan, and Russia, as well as other nations such as India and China,” Obama said in a memorandum.
In his memorandum to Secretary of State John Kerry, the president determined Afghanistan and 21 other nations as major illicit drug-producing or drug-transit countries.
The Bahamas, Belize, Bolivia, Burma, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Jamaica, Laos, Mexico, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Panama, Peru and Venezuela were also identified as major illicit drug-producing or transit countries.
According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the latest US estimates show poppy cultivation increased in Afghanistan for the third consecutive year from 180,000 hectares in 2012 to 198,000 hectares in 2013.
“The opium poppy trade in Afghanistan threatens domestic institutions, subverts the legal economy, and undermines good governance and the capacity of the Afghan people,” the president argued.
Obama said in spite of Afghanistan's crop reduction setbacks, which included a cut in eradication from 9,672 hectares in 2012 to 7,348 hectares in 2013, US assistance had advanced the country's counternarcotics capacity in some areas.
“In particular, there have been positive developments in Afghan programs such as interdiction, prosecutions, treatment services, and alternative livelihoods for farmers,” he said adding that all of this has happened in the context of a difficult security situation and entrenched corruption.
Still, opium poppy is grown in less than three percent of farmable land; nearly 10 times more is devoted to wheat production. US support for Afghanistan after 2014 will focus on maintaining established infrastructure and improving security.
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