RealNews

Poppy trade fuelling instability and the Taliban

The central Afghan province of Wardak is famous for its crisp apples. But many of Wardak’s farmers grew a new crop this year – one for which Afghanistan has gained greater infamy than it has won renown for its delicious fruit. When their apples were months from ripening this summer, the farmers of Wardak harvested valuable opium gum from poppies planted between the neat rows of trees. Spurred by strong opium prices and unhampered by a government whose control over its provinces is tenuous, more and more Afghan farmers are growing opium poppies. According to a joint survey released on Wednesday by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime and the Afghan government, poppy cultivation has spread to 28 of Afghanistan’s 32 provinces, compared to 14 in 2001. Full Story

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