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“48pc decline in opium production”

By Farhad Naibkhel-KABUL: The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC) and Ministry of Counter Narcotics (MoCN) reported 48 percent decrease in opium production.

According to a survey report poppy cultivation has declined by 19 percent and opium production by 48 percent in 2015.

The survey had been conducted by Ministry of Counter Narcotics in joint venture with the UNODC, that estimated under poppy cultivation area 183,000 hectares in 2015. In 2014, poppy was cultivated on 224,000 hectares land. The cultivation has significantly decreased for the first time since 2009.

While voicing his pleasure over decline in the poppy cultivation, Minister of Counter Narcotics Salamat Azimi said that 48 percent decline in opium production was witnessed in the country this year.

Speaking at a press conference here she said that the survey in 2015 noted opium production 3,300 tons, where production in 2014 was 6,400 tons. Eradication of poppy fields increased 40 percent this year.

“Poppy cultivated on 3,760 hectares was eradicated in 2015. Poppy standing on 2,692 hectares was destroyed in 2014. Poppy cultivation was reported in twenty provinces,” she added.

Good coordination and cooperation among the Counter Narcotics Police (CNP) and other relevant organizations as well as well performance of the CNP were main factors behind the achievements, she claimed.

Due to better coordination and cooperation among CNP and other Afghan forces, CNP casualties decreased by 50 percent this year, she noted.

The minister requested international community to continue supporting the MoCN in order to make Afghanistan free of poppy.

The survey findings show that still Helmand remains the country’s major poppy producing province, with 86,400 hectares.

Deputy Minister of Counter Narcotics at Ministry of Interior, General Baz Mohammad Ahmadi, said that in the past seven months CNP succeeded to arrest 1,682 drug traffickers and sized 45.6 tons of narcotics in 1,851 operations.

He said that 252 notorious drug traffickers, 65 medium category and 1,372 small drug smugglers are among the detained traffickers. “Twenty-seven government employees including eight policemen, nine soldiers and 10 female were among the apprehended drug traffickers,” he added.

The UNODC’s Regional Representative for Afghanistan, Andrey Avetisyan, said that the survey finding revealed significant reduction in narcotics cultivation and production in Afghanistan.

He said that UNODC would remain committed to support the counter narcotics ministry in order to fight poppy cultivation in Afghanistan.

The survey report came at a time when several neighboring and regional countries have expressed their concerns over smuggling of Afghan opium to the Eurasia and European states. The report will calm the concerns to some extent.

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