AT News Report
KABUL: A new survey of the United Nations and Afghan government has revealed that opium cultivation increased by seven percent in Afghanistan. Poppy was cultivated on 224,000 hectares, mostly in insecure provinces.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in collaboration with Afghan Ministry of Counter Narcotics in its 2014 annual report found that this year poppy cultivation was raised to 224,000 hectares comparing to 209,000 in 2013.
As per estimates, 89 percent of the total cultivation has taken place in nine insecure provinces of the country, where Taliban fighters encourage farmers to grow illegal harvest. Helmand province once again came on top of the list for growing poppy on 103,240 hectares of land, followed by Kandahar, Farah and Nangarhar provinces.
There is need for comprehensive anti-narcotics strategy on part of the Afghan government and international community to tackle with the illicit business of poppy in Afghanistan, NODC Regional Representative, Andrey Avetisyan said.
Mr. Avetisyan revealed that it is the right moment for releasing the report as in coming three weeks Afghan officials would gather with international actors in London to discuss country’s important issues, including poppy.
A political willing and readiness in the country can lead to reduce poppy cultivation and drugs trafficking, he said.
Due to prolonged election process and increase in surge by insurgents this year there was a 63 percent decrease in poppy eradication, where only 2,692 hectares land were cleared from poppy.
Acting Counter Narcotics Minister, Din Mohammad Mubariz Rashidi, said that election kept counter narcotics forces busy which provided the opportunity to the formers to cultivate and grow poppy in their areas.
He came hard on international community and said that just the United States and the United Kingdom helped the country significantly in counter narcotic efforts. He called on other countries to take part in anti-poppy campaign in the country. “Most of aid was spent in the country on projects, which were not important to bring down the drug cultivation and trafficking.” He also criticized a number of provincial officials for their reluctant to help the ministry in anti-narcotics campaigns.
He said with seven percent increase in poppy cultivation, potential production rose by 17% to 6,400 tons, comparing to 5,500 tons in 2013.
This year in counter narcotics campaign 11 Afghan security forces and two formers lost their lives while 23 security personnel and three civilians including a farmer were injured.
Baz Muhammad Ahmadi, Interior Deputy Minister for Counter Narcotic Affairs, said his forces in last few months conducted 1,255 counter narcotic operations, where they arrested 1,446 drug traffickers and those who were involved in this illegal business. “Twenty-eight drug laboratories were also destroyed,” he noted.