No option but to grow poppies, say Ghor farmers
FEROZKOH (Pajhwok): The counternarcotics department of western Ghor province on Saturday confirmed it had not provided incentives to farmers to discourage poppy cultivation.
A number of growers argued they had to cultivate illicit poppies because the government did not assure them of economic assistance in return for a halt to growing the crop.
They complained NGO representatives and government officials had not contacted them so far to resolve the issues of water shortage or provide them with improved seeds and fertiliser.
According to the farmers, growing other crops is not a profitable option when they receive no government assistance. They are also haunted by by water shortages, a problem that has not been addressed so far.
Abdul Qadir, a resident of Dolina district, promised if the government provided him with refined wheat seed, he would not cultivate poppies. “We know the negative impact of drugs but have no option other than growing poppies to feed our children.”
Meanwhile, the agriculture and livestock director said the cultivation of saffron had shown positive results last year. His department has decided to persuade farmers into cultivating saffron instead of poppies.
Ziauddin Saed said: “We have formally written a letter to the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock about the positive outcome of saffron cultivation and informed it about our next year’s plan.”
In 2013, 5,500 tonnes of opium were produced in Afghanistan. The opium production is expected to rise to 6,400 tonnes this year.
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