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Afghanistan opium production skyrockets to 9,000 tonnes

Afghanistan opium production skyrockets to 9,000 tonnes

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Nov 15, 2017 - 18:16

KABULinfo-icon (Pajhwok): Opium production in Afghanistaninfo-icon has sky-rocketed by 87 percent to a record level of 9,000 tonnes this year, compared with 2016 levels, the United Nations said on Wednesday.

UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said: “Increased insurgency and funding to terrorist groups is likely within Afghanistan while more high quality, low-cost heroin will reach consumer markets across the worldinfo-icon, leading to increased consumption.”

UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov said: "It is high time for the international community and Afghanistan to reprioritise drug control, and to acknowledge that every nation has a shared responsibility for this global problem."

The annual opium survey said 750 hectares used for poppy cultivation were eradicated this year, more than twice as much as in 2016. But areas under cultivation hit a record at 328,000 hectares, rising by 63 percent compared with last year’s 201,000 hectares.

It added the number of poppy-producing provinces went up from 21 to 24, with the illicit crop also grown in Ghazni, Samangan and Nuristan. A 15 percent hike in opium yield per hectare also contributed to the overall production rise.

The total farm-gate value of the opium produced -- the price of the opium at which it is sold by the farm -- was up by more than 50 percent at around $1.4 billion, equivalent to about 7 percent of Afghanistan's estimated gross domestic product, the report said.

The record production levels represented multiple challenges for Afghanistan, its neighbours and the other countries that are transit for or destination of the opiates.

According to the UNODC findings, the farm-gate value of the opium produced increased by over 50 percent at around $1.4 billion, or 7 percent of the country’s estimated gross domestic product.

The Ministry of Counter-Narcotics and the UN agency linked the higher production mainly to the increase in the area under poppy cultivation. The largest increase in yields happened in the south, where the average yield grew by 19 percent. In the north-eastern region, the yield rose by 14 percent.

The number of poppy-free provinces decreased from 13 to 10 in Afghanistan -- the world's top cultivator of the poppy. The price of opium as it left farms soared by 55 percent to about $1.4 billion.

Unemployment, lack of educationinfo-icon, intensifying insecurity, shrinking government control and corruption were among the key drivers, said survey, jointly compiled by UNODC and the counter-narcotics ministry.

With 44 percent of the total yield, Helmand stayed the top poppy-cultivating province, followed by Kandahar, Badghis, Faryab, Uruzgan and Nangarhar.

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