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Opium Cultivation Rose This Year in Afghanistan, U.N. Survey Shows

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ALISSA J. RUBIN
NY Times
Nov 22, 2012

KABUL, Afghanistan — Opium poppy cultivation rose substantially in 2012 in an “alarming” trend, despite a major opium eradication effort by Afghan governors, United Nations officials said Tuesday as they released the organization’s 2012 opium survey, which was undertaken with the Afghan Ministry of Counternarcotics.

The higher cultivation levels were driven by high prices for the crop as well as instability in the main growing areas, which made it easier for farmers and traffickers to operate. Another factor was the lack of a governmentwide commitment to counternarcotics, said Jean-Luc Lemahieu, the chief of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime for Afghanistan.

Poppy cultivation nationwide increased by 18 percent between 2011 and 2012, with a similar increase in Helmand Province, the biggest opium-producing region, despite an aggressive campaign by the governor to eradicate the crop and promote alternative jobs.

Afghanistan is the world’s largest producer of opium, the raw material for heroin, with its farmers harvesting about 80 percent of the world supply. Large quantities of Afghan heroin are exported to Russia, Iran and Europe.

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This article was posted: Thursday, November 22, 2012 at 5:51 am





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