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Afghanistan Poppy Crop Hits Record High

FILE - Afghan farmers collect raw opium as they work in a poppy field in Chaparhar district of Jalalabad, east of Kabul.

Poppy production in Afghanistan grew to an all time high in 2013 despite the United States spending some $7 billion in eradication efforts over the past 10 years.

A report by the U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction said Afghan farmers grew 209,000 hectares of poppies in 2013, surpassing the previous peak of 193,000 hectares in 2007.

It said one reason for the increase was more affordable deep-well technology that has allowed farmers to turn some 200,000 hectares of desert in southwestern Afghanistan into arable land over the past 10 years.

It added that high opium prices around the world and high poverty levels in Afghanistan helped to feed the renewed drive towards cultivating poppies, which are used to make heroin.

The report said the United States has spent approximately $7.6 billion on counternarcotics efforts in Afghanistan through various initiatives funded by the Department of Defense, the State Department and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency.

It suggested that U.S. officials considered the trends in opium cultivation and the effectiveness of past counternarcotics efforts when planning future initiatives.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.