News / Asia

Afghan Opium Crop Headed for Record High

Afghan Opium Crop Headed for Record Highi
X
April 15, 2013 8:15 PM
Afghan farmers are facing another bountiful harvest. But instead of celebrating, officials at the United Nations and around the world are increasingly worried. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more on Afghanistan's opium trade.

Afghan Opium Crop Headed for Record High

Afghan farmers are facing another bountiful harvest. But instead of celebrating, officials at the United Nations and around the world are increasingly worried about Afghanistan's opium trade.

The sun is shining in Afghanistan's Helmand province, and farmers are busy harvesting their opium poppies. This year, for the third year in a row, they are looking at a bigger opium crop.

Farmer Faiz Mohammed makes no apologies.

"We are the poorest people in this area. If we don't cultivate poppies we can't feed ourselves and our family. We have tried to cultivate corn and wheat, but that is too cheap, doesn't bring a good income, and poppy crops bring good money," said Mohammed.

2013 expected opium cultivation levels in Afghanistan, by province.2013 expected opium cultivation levels in Afghanistan, by province.
x
2013 expected opium cultivation levels in Afghanistan, by province.
2013 expected opium cultivation levels in Afghanistan, by province.
The riches promised by opium stand in contrast to the rest of the country's struggling economy.

Farmer Haji Abdullah said it is potential profit - and not pressure from the Taliban - that is feeding the opium harvest.

"The Taliban have no influence here. The farmers themselves grow poppies because, compared to the price of wheat, there is a huge difference," said Abdullah. "For instance, we sell four kilograms of corn for 100 Afghanis [$1.89 USD] but poppies bring 2000-5000 Afghanis [$37.80-$94.57 USD]. This is for the benefit of the farmers, we see there is a huge difference in the price."

A report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime warns that Afghanistan could account for as much as 90 percent of the world's supply of heroin.

The U.N.'s Jean-Luc Lemahieu calls it a sign of failure. "We have seen enormous inflow in this country over the last decades, and with regards to the drug control situation, we still see increases of the opium cultivation, so we cannot say in any way, based on the facts, that we have succeeded. We have failed," he said.

And Lemahieu warns that farmers are not the only ones becoming dependent on opium.

"It is one of the biggest diseases this country is facing at this moment - one million addicts. It is an enormous health problem. Who will pay for that? he said.

That is a question far from the thoughts of the opium farmers in Helmand province, who say they have no other way to feed their families.

Jeff Seldin

Jeff works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters covering a wide variety of subjects, from the nature of the growing terror threat in Northern Africa to China’s crackdown on Tibet and the struggle over immigration reform in the United States. You can follow Jeff on Twitter at @jseldin or on Google Plus.

You May Like

Reports of Mass Murder on Mediterranean Smuggler’s Boat

Boat sailed from Libya with 750 migrants aboard and arrived in Italy with 569 More

Video New Thailand Hotline Targets Misbehaving Monks

Officials say move aims to restore country’s image of Buddhism, tarnished by recent high profile scandals such as opulent lifestyle, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as child sex abuse More

Study: Dust from Sahara Helped Form Bahama Islands

What does the Sahara have in common with a Caribbean island? Quite a lot, researchers say More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Khan from: India
April 16, 2013 12:22 AM
US must build Factories, workshops, Rail network and manufacturing units to engage Afghans in work instead of spending money on war. Arms creates crimes and work create peace.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid