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Poppy-eradication drive launched in Kandahar

Poppy-eradication drive launched in Kandahar

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Mar 31, 2017 - 17:33

KANDAHAR CITY (Pajhwok): A campaign to eradicate 2000 hectares of poppy crop was launched in southern Kandahar province on Friday, an official said.

In an exclusive interview with Pajhwok Afghan News, the counter-narcotics director said the poppy-eradication campaign began in Maiwand district.

The drive would be extended to all parts of the province, Gul Mohammad Shukran promised, explaining the campaign was based on a decision of the Kandahar Operational-Military council.

Most of the illicit crop has been grown in Panjwai, Maiwand and Shah Walikot districts of the province this year.

Maiwand district’s administrative head Haji Obaidullah said he would implement the poppy eradication strategy based on the resources at his disposal. The district borders several parts of Helmand province.

Helmand is known as the drug capital of Afghanistaninfo-icon, producing the largest part of the worldinfo-icon’s total opium yield.

Obaidullah acknowledged proceeds from poppy cultivation in far-flung areas of Maiwand went to Talibaninfo-icon and other insurgent groups, as well as drug smugglers.

Asked why poppies were cultivated in government-controlled areas, the district chief replied that most people grew the illegal plants because of high opium prices.

He urged the government to give people alternative livelihood opportunities and resolve the irrigation problems to wean them away from poppy cultivation to other cash crops.

A farmer from the district, Mohammad Noor, also complained of an irrigation water shortage in Maiwand. “Crops other than poppies don’t meet even the cost they exact, much less our needs,” he observed.

Authorities claim the level of poppy cultivation in Kandahar, where security is relatively stable. However, cultivation levels are higher in areas under Taliban’s control or where the smuggling activity is widespread.

This year the area under poppy cultivation in Kandahar is estimated at 40,000 hectares, 20 per cent higher than 2016.

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