News / Asia

UN: Opium Production in Burma Increases

FILE - Villagers harvest opium in a field in Burma's Shan state.
FILE - Villagers harvest opium in a field in Burma's Shan state.
VOA News
The United Nations says opium production in Burma continued to increase in 2013, in part because poppy farmers had few other ways to make a living.

Cultivation of opium poppies in South East AsiaCultivation of opium poppies in South East Asia
x
Cultivation of opium poppies in South East Asia
Cultivation of opium poppies in South East Asia
In an annual report, the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime estimated Burma, also known as Myanmar, produced 870 tons of opium in 2013 - the highest amount since it began keeping track in 2002.

Burma is second only to Afghanistan in growing opium poppies, a key ingredient in heroin and other illegal drugs.

In 1999, the country promised to eradicate opium production by 2014. But production has now gone up for seven straight years.

Jason Eligh, UNODC's country manager for Burma, says the idea of a drug-free Burma is a "quite long way away."

One of the main problems, Eligh says, is that opium poppies are the only source of adequate income for many farmers in Burma, which is Southeast Asia's poorest country.

"If a family has no money and they don't have the capacity through the environment around them to earn money, then they're going to take whatever measures they can to try and get money just to survive, just to eat, and that's what we're seeing occurring," he said.

Year after year, the UNODC reports find that opium production is also linked to ethnic unrest along Burma's northeast border areas.

Opium production in Burma by state, 2013Opium production in Burma by state, 2013
x
Opium production in Burma by state, 2013
Opium production in Burma by state, 2013
Most of Burma's illegal opium crops are found in Kachin and Shan states, where violence between insurgents and the army have raged on for as long as 50 years.

"That's a long period of time for local infrastructure to deteriorate and in some places disappear completely. So your options, your opportunities as a farmer are significantly restricted," said Eligh.

Burma's government has tried to reach peace deals with many ethnic insurgent groups, though fighting rages on in some areas.

The peace efforts are part of Burma's wider political and economic reforms and opening up, which follow decades of stifling, direct military rule.

But while the region has seen improved infrastructure, Eligh says this has provided more opportunities for criminals to benefit from the illegal drug trade.

"As you get more roads, as you get bridges crossing rivers, as you get economies that are starting to integrate better with those around them... you're seeing an environment for an increase in flow of a variety of different products, and heroin is just one of a number of products that are moved for profit," he said.

The U.N. report also cited rising demand for illegal drugs in nearby countries, such as China, as something that was exacerbating Burma's opium problem.

You May Like

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

'Rumble in the Jungle' Turns 40

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid