Tags: Afghanistan | opium | trade | record | drugs

Report: Opium Trade Booming in Afghanistan

By    |   Tuesday, 21 Oct 2014 11:07 PM

A new report claims Afghanistan's opium trade is booming despite more than $7 billion in American efforts to slow down the practice.

The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), a U.S. government watchdog, reports that opium production in the war-torn country set an all-time high in 2013.

"According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Afghan farmers grew an unprecedented 209,000 hectares of opium poppy in 2013, surpassing the previous peak of 193,000 hectares in 2007," John F. Sopko, Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, writes in the report. "With deteriorating security in many parts of rural Afghanistan and low levels of eradication of poppy fields, further increases in cultivation are likely in 2014."

Through June, the U.S. had spent roughly $7.6 billion on the drug war in Afghanistan. Opium poppies are made into heroin, which then hits the global market.

Sopko writes that a number of factors contributed to the increase in opium production: deep-well technology that has resulted in more fertile lands; relatively high opium prices; and "an inexpensive, skilled, and mobile labor force."

Nangarhar province in eastern Afghanistan, for example, was poppy-free in 2008 but then had its opium production quadruple from 2012-2013. The country as a whole, writes Sopko, saw the value of its opium production increase from $2 billion to $3 billion during that same time period.

Reports in recent months have documented the rise in opium production in Afghanistan.

In 2011, it was reported that the price of Afghan opium more than doubled between 2009 and 2010, which forced many farmers in the country to start growing the plant.

"There is a $58 billion demand for narcotics, so our farmers have no disincentive to cultivate poppy," said Mohammed Azhar, a deputy minister charged with fighting the drug trade, in the 2011 story. "We have gotten a lot of help, but it is not enough. Afghanistan is still producing 85 percent of the opium in the world, and it is still a dark stain on our name."

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A new report claims Afghanistan's opium trade is booming despite more than $7 billion in American efforts to slow down the practice.
opium, trade, record, drugs
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2014-07-21
Tuesday, 21 Oct 2014 11:07 PM
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