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Poppy cultivation dips in Kandahar this year

Poppy cultivation dips in Kandahar this year

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Apr 21, 2019 - 14:24

KABULinfo-icon (Pajhwok): Poppy cultivation has declined due to a drought and water shortage in southern Kandahar province this year, an official said on Sunday.

Counter-Narcotics Director Gul Mohammad Shukran told Pajhwok Afghan News the UN Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC) had not yet conducted a survey regarding poppy cultivation.

But the information they have received from the region shows a fall in poppy cultivation in Kandahar this year. He said the illicit crop was cultivated on 38,000 hectres of land in 2018. This year, the crop cultivation dropped.

Water scarcity triggered by drought was a key reason behind the decline in cultivation of the poppy crop, he said, adding more water and efforts were needed to grow poppy. As a result, many farmers did not cultivate the crop.

He, however, said there was a need to address the problems being faced by farmers for the sustainable poppy eradication, he said.

Mafia groups exploited poor growers and forced them to grow poppy, he alleged. Ultimately, the mafia groups get maximum advantage from this business.

He said it was difficult for the government to offer subsidies for avoidance of poppy cultivation. He suggested more work was needed to resolve the issue.

Last year, under the Food Zone Programme, the irrigation system in Panjwai and Zherai districts was rehabilitated. In this way, people were encouraged not to grow poppy.

Shukran added the government implemented a poppy eradication drive every year but there was no plan this year.

He said another major problem was the lack of rehabilitation centres for drug addicts in the province. He demanded standard centres for the rehabilitation of drug addicts.

Mohibullah, a farmer from Maiwand district, told Pajhwok Afghan News there were 360 Karezinfo-icon systems in the past but all of them had gone dry due to the drought and farmers had to dig deep wells -- an expensive option to address the problem.

He urged the government to revive the irrigation system and help growers find a profitable market for their agricultural produce, If supported, farmers would not cultivate poppy, he believed.

Noor Mohammad, another farmer from Shah Wali Kot district, held a similar view and said ordinary crops could not address economic issues of growers.

He demanded rehabilitation of the Dehli Dam, the main source of water supply for Kandahar.

Earlier, Governor Hayatullah Hayat told a gathering a strategy would be devised for parallel work on local, regional and international levels to eradication poppy cultivation, drug trafficking and smuggling.

A UNODC report shows that poppy was cultivated on 328 hectares land in 2017 when 900,000 tonnes of opium was produced.

It showed a 63 percent increase in poppy cultivation and 78 percent hike in production of drugs.

nh/mud

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