Saturday, November 17, 2007

Poppy production growing in Afghanistan

The warlords and Afghan officials as well as farmers also profit from growing poppies. Given that so many people profit, not just the Taliban, that it is very difficult to reverse the trend. During the reign of the Taliban the US paid the Taliban leadership to reduce production drastically and that was successful but Karzai depends upon drug lords and corrupt officials who profit from the trade.
One partial solution is to use the opium for legal medical purposes.

MIL-UN-AFGHANISTAN-POPPY
Poppy cultivation in Afghanistan increased by 17 pct. -- UN

BRUSSELS, Nov 16 (KUNA) In 2007, Afghanistan cultivated 193,000 hectares of opium poppies , a 17 percent increase over last year.

In its final Afghan Opium Survey for 2007, which was issued Friday, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) showed that opium was now equivalent to 53 percent of the country's licit gross domestic product (GDP). Speaking at a conference in Brussels on the future of Afghanistan, hosted by Princeton University, the Executive Director of UNODC Antonio Maria Costa announced that the total export value of opiates produced in and trafficked from Afghanistan in 2007 was about USD 4 billion, a 29 percent increase over 2006.

Considering that more than 660 tons of heroin and morphine were being exported from Afghanistan in 2007 or have been stored for future export, "the potential windfall for criminals, insurgents and terrorists is staggering and runs into the hundreds of millions of dollars," warned Costa. He urged NATO to take a more active role in counter-narcotics. "Since drugs are funding the insurgency, NATO has a self-interest in supporting Afghan forces in destroying drug labs, markets and convoys. Destroy the drug trade and you cut off the Taliban's main funding source", said Costa.

"Time is not on our side. Either we sow the seeds of security and development now, or the Taliban will reap its deadly harvest in the future," warned. Costa.

Meanwhile, a 3-day conference titled "State, Security and Economy in Afghanistan" kicked off here Friday with the participation of government officials , diplomats and analysts from Afghanistan , Iran, Pakistan, the US and Europe.(end) nk.

ayh

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