Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Afghan Opium Production Shoots Up

I had posted earlier today about more drug trafficking coming out of Iran via Turkey, and then saw this article from France24 discussing opium production in Afghanistan:

Opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan reached a record high in 2013 as farmers seek to "insure" themselves ahead of NATO forces' withdrawal next year, the United Nations said Wednesday. 
The area under cultivation rose by 36 percent in 2013, the UN drugs agency UNODC said in its annual report on Afghanistan, while production of opium, the main ingredient in heroin, jumped almost 50 percent compared with last year.

... Despite the presence of tens of thousands of foreign troops since the US-led invasion ousted the Taliban in 2001, Afghanistan remains the world's main producer of opium.

The country produces about 90 percent of the world's opium, and poppy farmers are taxed by the Taliban, who use the cash to help fund their insurgency against the government and NATO forces.

Assisted by its Western allies, Afghanistan has been trying to fight opium cultivation, including eradicating the crop before harvesting, but the efforts have so far met with limited success.

Most of the cultivation takes place in the southern and western provinces where the Taliban insurgency is most active.

In southern Helmand province, Afghanistan's principal poppy-producing region, the area under cultivation rose by a third in 2013, while neighbouring Kandahar, the birthplace of the Taliban, saw a 16 percent rise.

The poppies, which provide huge profits in one of the world's poorest countries, also play a large part in the corruption that plagues Afghan life at every level from district to national government.

Its misleading that the reporter casts the farmers into the role of victims. This isn't a matter of "insurance." It is a matter of money, and it pays better to grow opium than food crops. Also, the Taliban has transformed into narco-terrorists much as FARC and other terrorist insurgencies have done in the past, so the fact that the farmers are turning more heavily to cultivation of opium merely demonstrates the loss of control by the NATO troops.

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