Fight against Afghanistan’s opium trade is failing, U.S. report says
THE SURGE IN THIS RESPECT IS FAILING . OPIUM IS ONE OF THE TALIBAN’S MAIN SOURCES OF FUNDING
“An inspector general report being released Tuesday says the amount of land used to grow poppies in 2013 eclipsed the previous record set in 2007, producing nearly $3 billion in profits, up from $2 billion in 2012.
“The recent record-high level of poppy cultivation calls into question the long-term effectiveness and sustainability” of the U.S.-led counter-narcotics program, John F. Sopko, the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, said in the report.
Sopko said several areas once declared poppy-free by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime are now awash in opium, the raw ingredient in heroin. He cited Nangarhar province in eastern Afghanistan, declared poppy-free in 2008 and cited as a model for successful interdiction. The province saw a fourfold increase in opium production in 2013.
Part of the surge is due to increased reliance on affordable deep-well technology that has provided ample water for poppy plants, the report says. The wells have turned 494,000 acres of desert land into arable agricultural areas over the last decade in southwestern Afghanistan, the center of the country’s opium cultivation” Los Angeles Times.