Helmand farmers now grow poppy crop thrice a year
LASHKARGAH (Pajhwok): The cultivation of poppy crop twice or thrice a year has become common in some areas of southern Helmand province, the world’s leading opium producing region.
Basirul Haq, a farmer in Nawzad district, told Pajhwok Afghan News some farmers grew the illicit plant twice or thrice a year in some areas of the district.
“In the past, farmers would sow poppy seeds in fall season and would harvest the yield in spring, but now they cultivate the dangerous plant in summer and fall,” he said.
According to Haq, farmers in Nawzad, Baghran, Washir and Musa Qala districts had prepared their land to cultivate the crop for a second or third time.
Mullah Mohammad, a resident of Musa Qala district, said: “People are really happy to cultivate poppy for a second and third time because it has become an occupation and a source of income.”
Mohammad said most of the youth had picked up weapons fighting against their own security forces due to unemployment, but now some of them had put their guns down and were busy in cultivation of poppy.
He said currently the price of one kilogram of opium was 20,000 Pakistan rupees in the province.
Mohammad said some people in Manda locality of the district had prepared their fields for cultivation of poppy crop for second time, adding that most people chose to cultivate the illicit plant due to economic problems.
Syed Ahmad Wror, head of the provincial Counternarcotics Department, confirmed the second time cultivation of poppy in northern parts of the province.
“In the past, farmers did not know the crop can be grown for a second and third time, but now they have learned it,” he said.
He expressed concern over the increase in poppy cultivation, saying more poppy production meant more insecurity and lawlessness.
Police Chief Brig. Gen. Aqa Noor Kintoz said the government was committed to eradicating poppy in the province.
He said Helmand was a place where more poppy was grown and as a result, the province witnessed more insecurity and lawlessness.
According to local officials, poppy was cultivated on 80,000 hectares of land last year, when the harvest season passed off without any problem.
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