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Taliban sharply reduce opium cultivation

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KABUL: The Taliban administration has sharply reduced opium cultivation in Afghanistan as annual opium cultivation has dropped by a whopping 80 percent compared to last year, according to new research.

In April 2022 almost a year after taking control of Afghanistan, the Taliban banned the cultivation, production, and trafficking of all illicit narcotics.

David Mansfield, a leading expert on Afghanistan’s drugs trade, has said the Taliban had “exceeded expectations and reduced poppy cultivation to levels not seen since 2001”.

Around 80 percent of the opium produced in Afghanistan comes from the southern province of Helmand. Mansfield said satellite imagery appeared to show that in Helmand “poppy cultivation has fallen from more than 120,000 hectares in 2022 to less than 1,000 hectares in 2023.”

This is as US special envoy Thomas West has said that the Taliban’s policies to decrease opium poppy production this year are credible. “Every country in the region and beyond has a shared interest in an Afghanistan free of drugs,” West said in a tweet.

The BBC reported on Tuesday that an investigation by the media outlet has found a marked decrease in poppy cultivation across Afghanistan this year.

The BBC reported that it traveled in Afghanistan – and used satellite analysis – to examine the effects of a decree issued in April 2022 by the Taliban’s supreme leader Hibatullah Akhundzada that the cultivation of poppies, from which opium, the key ingredient for the drug heroin can be extracted, was strictly prohibited.

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