Archive for 05/10/2010


The production of opium — the raw material for heroin and a major source of revenue for the Taliban insurgency — has halved in Afghanistan due to crop infection this year, but prices have tripled, a UN report released on Thursday said. The sharp drop in output is largely due to bad weather and a plant infection hitting the major poppy-crop growing provinces of Helmand and Kandahar particularly hard, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said.

“As a result of the damage, yield fell 48 per cent to 29.2 kilograms per hectare, from 56.1 kilograms per hectare compared with the previous year,” it said.

The report said the area of land under poppy cultivation remained stable in 2010 at 123,000 hectares.

Some 98 per cent of the all opium poppy was cultivated in nine provinces in the country’s western and southern regions, it said, adding, “Helmand and Kandahar took the lion’s share with Helmand alone accounting for 53 per cent of total opium cultivation in Afghanistan.” The two provinces, where Taliban are most active, are the focus of a US military surge this year, with the bulk of 30,000 extra US troops moved to Afghanistan this year deployed to Helmand and Kandahar.

“These regions are dominated by insurgency and organized crime networks,” UNODC executive director Yury Fedotov said in a statement.

“This underscores the link between opium poppy cultivation and insecurity in Afghanistan, a trend we have observed since 2007.” Taliban militants are believed to fund their insurgency against the Afghan government and the 150,000 US and NATO troops by collecting tax from opium money.

Fedotov cautioned against “false optimism” because of the drop in production, saying the rising price for opium might make the market again lucrative for growers.

In 2010, the average farm-gate price of dry opium at harvest time was recorded at USD 169 per kilogram, a 164-per-cent increase over 2009, when the price was USD 64 per kilogram, the report found.

The rising prices could also prompt former poppy farmers to think twice about having switched to wheat, an important alternative crop in Afghanistan, Fedotov said.

He said also that any meaningful fight against Afghan opium production would also require the international community to curb demand in the region and western countries. “As long as demand drives this market, there will always be another farmer to replace one we convince to stop cultivating, and another trafficker to replace one we catch.” Afghanistan supplies more than 90 per cent of the world’s opium.

Thursday’s report said that the forced eradication programme led by the government was at its lowest level this year. Afghan forces eradicated 2,316 hectares of poppy crops, more than half of them in Helmand province.

NATO has also stepped up its targeting of opium convoys and traffickers, arresting dozens of suspects and seizing thousands of tons of the illicit drug.

On Wednesday, Baz Mohammed Ahmadi, the deputy interior minister, said nearly 8 tons of opium, heroin and hashish had been seized by Afghan forces in the past six months.

Werbeanzeigen
  • Disease keeps prices high despite drop in production
  • Number of households involved in farming drug on rise
  • Industry supports Taliban insurgency against 150,000 troops

The Taliban made £65million last year from Afghanistan’s opium trade despite the presence of thousands of British troops, a damning UN report has found.

In a startling indication that the war on poppy growing is having little effect, insurgents are still reaping the benefits despite the loss of life and huge amounts of money being thrown at the problem.

The report for the United Nations ominously warns that the illegal trade will grow even more.

High: while disease cut the amount of opium produced in Afghanistan by almost half this year compared to last, there was no fall in the number of poppy fields under cultivation and farmers earned far more for their crops
High: while disease cut the amount of opium produced in Afghanistan by almost half this year compared to last, there was no fall in the number of poppy fields under cultivation and farmers earned far more for their crops
Big score: Afghanistan produces 90 per cent of the world's opium, which, in turn, produces heroin
Big score: Afghanistan produces 90 per cent of the world’s opium, which, in turn, produces heroin
Killing fields: Some £63 million is earned by insurgents per year through the opium trade - it helps fund the Taliban's war efforts
Killing fields: Some £63 million is earned by insurgents per year through the opium trade – it helps fund the Taliban’s war efforts

Helmand province, where 9,500 British soldiers are battling the Taliban, produced 53 per cent of the country’s opium, the raw ingredient to make heroin.

The insurgents receive about $100million (£65million) a year from Afghanistan’s illegal opium trade. the report said.

The cash bonanza will continue to fund their fight against British and NATO troops. In the last 12 months, 92 UK servicemen have lost their lives in the country.

This is despite the U.S. and its coalition allies spending more than $250million (£190million) on counter-narcotics programmes in the war-ravaged nation.

In total the amount of poppy cultivated last year was 304,000 acres – the same as in 2009.

The figures are a damaging blow for Britain, whose deployment to the Taliban heartland of Helmand in 2006 intended to smash poppy cultivation and production.

Stash: Though some opium is seized, these latest figures offer are not expected to deter other farmers from cultivating
Stash: Though some opium is seized, these latest figures offer are not expected to deter other farmers from cultivating
Come down: While opium production has decreased, the price has increased so much that farmers are earning more now than they were last year with less stock
Come down: While opium production has decreased, the price has increased so much that farmers are earning more now than they were last year with less stock

Since then the UK death toll has risen to 337 since military action began in 2001.

Afghanistan produces 90 per cent of the world’s opium, said the UN’s Office on Drugs and Crime.

Before the 2001 invasion, the Taliban had managed to drastically reduce the poppy crop.

But since being toppled it has backed poppy growing to finance its insurgency.

Cultivation of the multibillion-dollar crop in 2010 was the same as in 2009 after falling in the previous two years.

Opium production dropped 48 per cent to 3,600 metric tons, mainly due to the spread of a disease that damaged poppy plants.

But low harvest yields caused by blight is likely to lead to an increase in poppy prices – encouraging more poverty-stricken farmers to plant the crop.

In 2009, the average price per kilogram of dry opium at harvest was $64 (£41) per kilogram. It is now about $169 (£114) per kilogram.

UN officials warned three years ago that ‘frightening levels’ of poppy production was threatening the very survival of Afghanistan.

The coalition has poured money into the country to try to stem opium production as part of an effort to undercut funding for insurgent groups fighting the 150,000 coalition forces in the country.

The disappointing figures come despite years of programmes aimed at reducing the poppy crop, by giving farmers subsidised seeds for other crops and vouchers for farmers.

The wheat-distribution programme, where famers receive bags of cereal seeds to persuade them to quit growing narcotics, will begin shortly.

Experts said that if Afghanistan’s discredited government can provide security there would be less incentive for farmers to plant opium to survive.

Robert Watkins, the deputy UN envoy in Afghanistan, said: ‘If there is not going to be security in Afghanistan across the entire country, we are not going to be able to eliminate this problem.’

This is despite the U.S. and its coalition allies spending more than $250million (£190million) on counter-narcotics programmes in the war-ravaged nation.

In total the amount of poppy cultivated last year was 304,000 acres – the same as in 2009.

The figures are a damaging blow for Britain, whose deployment to the Taliban heartland of Helmand in 2006 intended to smash poppy cultivation and production.

Stash: Though some opium is seized, these latest figures offer are not expected to deter other farmers from cultivating
Stash: Though some opium is seized, these latest figures offer are not expected to deter other farmers from cultivating
Come down: While opium production has decreased, the price has increased so much that farmers are earning more now than they were last year with less stock
Come down: While opium production has decreased, the price has increased so much that farmers are earning more now than they were last year with less stock

Since then the UK death toll has risen to 337 since military action began in 2001.

Afghanistan produces 90 per cent of the world’s opium, said the UN’s Office on Drugs and Crime.

Before the 2001 invasion, the Taliban had managed to drastically reduce the poppy crop.

But since being toppled it has backed poppy growing to finance its insurgency.

Cultivation of the multibillion-dollar crop in 2010 was the same as in 2009 after falling in the previous two years.

Opium production dropped 48 per cent to 3,600 metric tons, mainly due to the spread of a disease that damaged poppy plants.

But low harvest yields caused by blight is likely to lead to an increase in poppy prices – encouraging more poverty-stricken farmers to plant the crop.

In 2009, the average price per kilogram of dry opium at harvest was $64 (£41) per kilogram. It is now about $169 (£114) per kilogram.

UN officials warned three years ago that ‘frightening levels’ of poppy production was threatening the very survival of Afghanistan.

The coalition has poured money into the country to try to stem opium production as part of an effort to undercut funding for insurgent groups fighting the 150,000 coalition forces in the country.

The disappointing figures come despite years of programmes aimed at reducing the poppy crop, by giving farmers subsidised seeds for other crops and vouchers for farmers.

The wheat-distribution programme, where famers receive bags of cereal seeds to persuade them to quit growing narcotics, will begin shortly.

Experts said that if Afghanistan’s discredited government can provide security there would be less incentive for farmers to plant opium to survive.

Robert Watkins, the deputy UN envoy in Afghanistan, said: ‘If there is not going to be security in Afghanistan across the entire country, we are not going to be able to eliminate this problem.’

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1316562/Taliban-rakes-63m-heroin-crops-despite-British-troops-crackdown.html#ixzz11T9wBYG8