Afghanistan 36% Increase In Opium Poppy Cultivation This Year

KABUL: (MEP) – Afghanistan recorded a 36 per cent increase in opium poppy cultivation this year, Xinhua news agency reported.

A study released in Kabul by the Afghan Ministry of Counter Narcotics and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said opium cultivation area rose from 154,000 hectares in 2012 to 209,000 hectares this year — higher than the peak of 193,000 hectares in 2007.

Almost 90 per cent of cultivation remained confined to nine out of the country’s 34 provinces including those most affected by the insurgency.

Helmand, a major poppy-producer province since 2004 and responsible for nearly half of all cultivation, expanded cultivation area by 34 per cent followed by Kandahar which saw a 16 percent rise.

Balkh and Faryab provinces lost their “poppy-free” status, leaving 15 provinces free of poppies this year compared to 17 last year.

“Farmers may have driven up cultivation by trying to shore up their assets as insurance against an uncertain future resulting from the withdrawal of international troops next year,” the UNODC said.

UNODC head Yury Fedotov underscored the need for an integrated, comprehensive response to the drug problem

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