Poppy cultivation continues despite eradication
KABUL (PAN): Afghanistan could not afford to be complacent about poppy cultivation, a research organisation warned on Tuesday, suggesting gains must be carefully measured, policies contextualised and a long-term commitment ensured.
Anticipated ramifications of 2014 transition did not include a reduction in illicit agricultural activities in Afghanistan, the Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit (AREU) said in a new report on efforts at eradicating the illegal crop.
Field research in May 2012 focused on individual household decision-making and the economic, social, and political contexts in which they were made, placing opium poppy cultivation in the broader livelihoods, governance and political context.
The latest case study by the independent organisation cautioned policymakers and development practitioners against applying evidence from fieldwork areas to situations across the country.
It referred to research on Char Bolak and Chimtal districts in Balkh province that was once declared poppy-free, as well as Jurm and Khash districts in Badakhshan where the illicit crop is still cultivated at a moderate level.
The study suggests a coercive approach to tackling poppy cultivation will be unsustainable in the longer term in Balkh, whereas half-hearted measures in Badakhshan has led to uneven results.
Use of coercion to stop poppy cultivation when viable sources of alternative livelihoods are not in place can be counterproductive to population welfare and the government's goal of achieving stability, the report says.
"Simple crop substitution is an inadequate approach to creating alternative livelihoods, as economic benefits of cultivating poppies outweigh that of any other single crop," it argued.
The study concludes that good governance and security can facilitate the development of markets and trade critical to ensuring long-term transition to licit agricultural activities.
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