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Afghanistan sees drastic rise in opium trade

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KABUL: Poppy cultivation has increased by more than 8 percent as an estimated 6,800 tons of opium were produced in Afghanistan in the last harvest season which ended in July.

A report by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime said that Afghanistan accounts for 85% of global opium production, and Afghan opiates supply 80% of users worldwide.

The UNODC has calculated that the opium business will have generated between $1.8 billion and $2.7 billion in Afghanistan in 2021, about one-tenth of Afghanistan’s economic output.

The agency said the Taliban takeover in August 2021, and the resulting protracted economic uncertainty, drove opium prices in August and September to new highs. “This strengthens the incentive for opium cultivation,” the report said.

During the Taliban’s first period of rule from 1996 to 2001, they cracked down on opium production, which consequently dropped to 185 metric tons in 2001. However, after the Taliban were toppled from power that year, opium production shot up again.

The Taliban now claim they want to combat opium cultivation and drug trafficking in Afghanistan.  After taking power in August, the Taliban announced their intention to reduce opium production to zero.

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