AFGHANISTAN OPIUM PRODUCTION UP 43% – UN DRUGS WATCHDOG
Opium production in Afghanistan has increased by 43% in the past year, United Nations officials have said.
The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said the area used to farm the poppy plant, the source of opium, increased by 10% to 201,000 hectares.
But better farming conditions resulted in a higher yield per hectare, increasing overall production.
Afghanistan is the world’s largest producer of the substance, which is the main ingredient in heroin.
Growing opium is a crime in the country, but it is still a major cash crop for impoverished farming communities.
The Taliban also taxes poppy production in areas it controls, which is a major source of income for its military activities.
UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov said the figures were “a worrying reversal in efforts”.
The opium produced from the poppy plant is used to make some of the most powerful medicinal painkillers, such as morphine.
However, many nations cultivate their own supply for medicinal use, and Afghanistan’s production of illicit opium is primarily sued for the illegal drug trade.
The Afghan government has a stated policy of eradicating poppy crops, but the crop is widespread in many government-controlled regions, and officials are often accused of turning a blind eye.
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