Cash-strapped Garamsir farmers return to poppies
LASHKARGAH (Pajhwok): Security related problems have reduced in the Garamsir district of southern Helmand province, but residents have grown poppy crop in their fields in order to meet financial needs, the town’s administrative head says.
Omar Ayub Omari told Pajhwok Afghan News during an interview on Sunday that other districts faced more security problems than Garamsir where residents had grown poppy crop.
Recently there were reports that local officials had allowed farmers in Garamsir to cultivate the illicit plant in their fields.
But Omari said in this regard: “No official has allowed farmers to grow poppy crop, these reports are baseless.”
“We are expecting the provincial administration to launch a general poppy eradication campaign,” the district chief added.
He said if farmers were assisted and informed about the hazards of narcotics, they would shun growing the banned plant.
Omari said the residents of Garamsir were fully cooperating with the government in maintaining security and as a result, all schools and heath facilities in the town were operational.
Without going into details, the official alleged some foreign intelligence agencies were trying to create insecurity in the district.
He said they had discussed with the provincial government an increase in the police strength in Garamsir and this problem would be resolved soon.
Pak Agha, a farmer in Banadar area of Garamsir, told Pajhwok Afghan News that local residents had not been cultivating poppy crop for the past several years.
“But they were forced to resume cultivation of the plant this solar year due to increased economic hardships,” he said.
He said government officials had so far said nothing whether farmers should cultivate poppy or not.
Another farmer, Lala Jan, said poppy crop was grown only on usurped lands in Garamsir.
According to Helmand counternarcotics department, 80,000 hectors of land has been grown with poppy crop in the province this season.
Garamsir borders Pakistan and some insecure districts of Helmand.
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