Insecurity: Helmand wheat farmers turn to poppy crop
LASHKARGAH (Pajhwok): Farmers who previously sowed wheat crop have this year cultivated poppy plant in their fields in southern Helmand province due to increasing insecurity, an agriculture official said on Monday.
Helmand is the most insecure province of Afghanistan and recently its security situation has considerably worsened.
Shah Mohammad, a senior official at the provincial agriculture, irrigation and livestock department, told Pajhwok Afghan News that many residents of the province had cultivated poppy crop instead of wheat this year.
“Earlier wheat was grown on land given to farmers by the government but this year insurgents are in control of these areas and that paved the way for farmers to cultivate poppy and benefit from the chance.”
However, he said despite poppy cultivation wheat production this year was considerable compared to previous years in Helmand.
According to him, wheat was cultivated on 95,000 hectares of land with each hectare producing nearly five tonnes of wheat.
Earlier, 4.5 tonnes were produced by one hectare of land, he said, adding “The fall of much rain this year, appropriate pest prevention measures and improved seeds provision to farmers resulted in the increased wheat harvest.”
He said the wheat produced was good enough for Helmand and other provinces and would also be exported to Pakistan and re-imported after being floured.
Meanwhile, Helmand counternarcotics head Syed Ahmad confirmed to Pajhwok that poppy had been cultivated in many areas of the province this year, compared to previous years.
A farmer in Nad Ali district said most of the farmers in the district had cultivated poppy on their one-third part of land.
However, a farmer in Nawa district denied his assertion and said no one had cultivated poppy but all farmers had cultivated wheat and the grain didn’t have good harvest because of pests and diseases.
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