A report from the UN claims that opium production has increased by seven percent over last year despite counter-anti-narcotics programmes.
Aljazeera reports: Opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan has reached a record high this year, a UN report has revealed, highlighting the failure of the US-led campaign to crack down on the lucrative crop.
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The total area under cultivation was about 224,000 hectares (553,500 acres) in 2014, a seven percent increase on last year, according to the Afghanistan Opium Survey released by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime.
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Just 74,000 hectares was being used to grow poppies in 2002, a year after the Taliban regime was toppled.
The survey said that potential opium production was estimated at 6,400 tonnes in 2014, a rapid increase of 17 percent from 2013, but not as high as the record 7,400 tonnes produced in 2007.
“The country is having to stand on its own feet [and] … will have to deal with this criminalisation of its economics and politics as a matter of priority,” Jean-Luc Lemahieu, director of policy analysis at UNODC, said.
The UN survey said the “farm-gate” value of opium in Afghanistan was about $0.85bn – four percent of the country’s GDP – while just 2,692 hectares of poppy fields were eradicated in 2014 – a 63 percent drop from the previous year.
Despite a decade of costly US and international counter-narcotics programmes, poppy farming has expanded in the south and west regions, which include the most volatile parts of the country where the Taliban insurgency is the strongest.
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