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

    US-Russia Tensions Complicate Syria War

    With a shared enemy and opposing allies, Russia and the US are working to avoid confrontation

    Video Re-opening Old Wounds in Beirut's Bullet-riddled Yellow House

    Built in neo-Ottoman style in 1920s, it is set to be re-opened in Sept. as ‘memory museum’ - bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity

    Cambodian-Americans Lobby for Human Rights Resolution

    Resolution condemns all forms of political violence in Cambodia, urges Cambodian government to end human rights violations, calls for respect of press freedom

    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.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora