United Nations officials in Afghanistan are attempting to create a “flood of drugs” in the country intended to destroy the value of opium and force poppy farmers to switch to legal crops such as wheat.
After the failure to destroy fields of the scarlet flowers in Afghanistan’s volatile south, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime says the answer is to stop the drugs from leaving the country in the first place.
“Manual eradication is incompetent and inefficient,” UNODC chief Antonio Maria Costa said during a visit to the western Afghan province of Herat. “So we want to see more efforts to stop the flow of drugs across Afghanistan’s borders and the hitting of high-value targets to create a market disruption.
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“We want to create a flood of drugs within Afghanistan. There will be so much opium inside Afghanistan unable to go out that the price will go down.”
Officials admit that the plan is a second-best solution to intensive eradication campaigns. Last year the Afghan government succeeded in destroying only 3.5% of Afghanistan’s 157,000 hectares of poppy because eradication teams were either attacked or bought off by local drug lords. But the attempt to use brute economics to tackle the country’s $4bn (£2.5bn) narcotics industry instead is fraught with problems – not least Afghanistan’s thousands of miles of porous borders.