KABUL: Poppy cultivation and opium production have fallen by 95 percent in Afghanistan since Taliban authorities banned poppy cultivation, according to a UN report released on Sunday.
Taliban officials have vowed to end illegal drug production in Afghanistan since returning to power in 2021, and in April 2022 they banned the cultivation of the poppy plant, from which opium and heroin are made.
The report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) found that poppy cultivation decreased by an estimated 95 percent, from 233,000 hectares (575,755 acres) at the end of 2022 to 10,800 hectares (575,755 acres) in 2023.
Opium production continued in the same way, decreasing from 6,200 tons to 333 tons in 2023.
This year’s estimated harvest is 24-38 tonnes, compared to 350-580 tonnes of exportable heroin last year.
The UNODC has warned of the “potential humanitarian consequences for many vulnerable rural communities” of the sudden contraction in Afghanistan’s opium economy as growers are forced to turn to far less lucrative alternative crops.
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Farmer incomes, estimated at $1.36 billion in 2022, have fallen 92 percent this year to $110 million, according to UNODC, and this loss is expected to affect the country’s already struggling economy more broadly.
Last year, poppy plants accounted for almost a third of total agricultural production by value in Afghanistan, the world’s leading producer.
“Today, the people of Afghanistan need urgent humanitarian assistance to recover from the shock of income loss and save lives,” UNODC Executive Director Ghada Waly said in a statement.
“They need a lot more water for all other production, like cotton, wheat,” while the country has experienced “three years of drought in a row,” he said at a briefing on the report.
The Afghan interior ministry’s narcotics department said it agreed “to a certain extent” with the UNODC report’s estimates of the area under poppy cultivation.
However, other elements of the report, such as opium production and socio-economic data, were ignored because they were not based on field-based research but relied on satellite images and previous year data.
news source (www.brecorder.com)