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Survey links growing insecurity to high poppy yield last year

Survey links growing insecurity to high poppy yield last year

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May 21, 2018 - 18:41

KABULinfo-icon (Pajhwok): A new survey shows poor law enforcement, political instability, corruption and insecurity last year allowed poppy cultivation to be grown on a record level, growing illicit economy and further destabilizing the country.

The survey has been jointly conducted by the Ministry of Counternarcotics and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The study shows opium production and trafficking in Afghanistaninfo-icon generated $6.6 billion last year, with part of the money going to the Talibaninfo-icon to keep their war machine moving high.

According to a Pajhwok Afghan News report, poppy cultivation increased by 63 percent and opium production increased by 78 percent in Afghanistan last year compared to the previous year’s yields.

The report shows 328,000 hectares of land was cultivated with poppy last year when opium production reached 9,000 metric tons in Afghanistan.

Ministry of Counternarcotics assistant for coordination and policymaking, Javid Ahmad Qaim, who announced the survey results today, said the survey was launched in 1,300 villages, interviewing 4,000 farmers and 1,300 tribal elders in 2017.

He said the survey showed poor law enforcement, political instability, insecurity, lack of government control in some areas and corruption led to greater opium production in Afghanistan last year.

Lack of job opportunities, declined educationinfo-icon, agricultural products’ limited access to market and lack of national services for farmers were cited other reasons that contributed to a higher opium production in the country, Qaim said.

He added around $6.6 billion was generated from opium cultivation, production and trafficking in the country and the increase in poppy cultivation had led to illicit economic growth and a deteriorated security situation in Afghanistan last year.

Qaim said 46 percent of the interviewees said they continually grew poppy while 54 percent said they cultivated it only last year.

Those who cultivated poppy continually said the money they obtained from the crop could meet only 57 percent of their annual costs as they used the money for purchasing food items, clearing debts and medical treatment of their family members, he said.

But those who cultivated poppy last year only said they started growing the plant to deal with their wedding dowry costs.

Qaem said: “A small number of farmers say they have bought land or agricultureinfo-icon products with the amount saved from daily expenses.” He said last year 354,000 people found work opportunity in growing poppy.

According to Qaem last year 68 percent poppy was cultivated in insecure areas which were either out of government control or a fighting ground. The poppy crop also contributed to the prolonging of the conflict in secure areas, he added.

The survey finds most of farmers gave taxes to militants for cultivation of poppy in their fields last year.

Qaem said: “According to the survey, militants get full advantage of poppy cultivation and the illicit crop helps fuel the conflict.’

“The result of the survey shows there is need for long-term policies to control drugs and there should be money for implementation of such programs so it could be properly implemented politically and technically,” he said.

He said different reasons existed for cultivation of narcotics across the country, thus there was need for separate strategy for different areas. In addition, farmers should be supported because they were poor people.

According to Qaem, security forces inflicted around $500 losses to drug smugglers but the amount is nothing compared to their profit from the illicit business.

Mark Colhoun, head of UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), said political instability, insecurity, corruption and weak rule of law contributed to the massive production of narcotics in Afghanistan last year.

The UN official did not say how many people grew poppy in Afghanistan but added the number of such farmers increased by 11 percent in 2017 compared to 2011.

Reports show billions of dollars have been spent on countering narcotics but the level of poppy cultivation surged by 42 percent in 2017, compared to 2001.

In addition, 3.6 million people in the country, which account for 12 percent of the population, are addicted to drugs.

mds/nh/ma

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