View Full Version : Opium Production Up 50% In Afghanistan: U.N. Report

06-25-2007, 09:54 PM
Opium production up 50 percent in Afghanistan: UN report


Published: Monday June 25, 2007

Efforts to slash opium production in Asia are having mixed results, with cultivation up massively in Afghanistan but almost wiped out in the Golden Triangle region, a United Nations report said.

The report, released overnight by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), said efforts to eradicate the world's drug problems are paying off as cultivation, production and abuse appear to have stabilised on a global level.

The report pointed to the Golden Triangle in Southeast Asia, once one of the largest sources for heroin, as an example of success, saying the region is now "almost opium free" as a result of crackdowns on poppy farming.

But opium production worldwide reached a record 6,610 tonnes last year, up 43 percent from 2005, because of a spike in supply from Afghanistan, the report warned.

"The production and consumption of cannabis, cocaine, amphetamines and ecstasy have stabilised at the global level -- with one exception," the 2007 World Drug Report said.

"The exception is the continuing expansion of opium production in Afghanistan."

Production in the conflict-hit South Asian nation, responsible for 92 percent of the world's opium, increased by almost 50 percent last year despite internationally backed efforts to eradicate its poppy fields.

"For no other drug is production so concentrated in a single area," the report, released in Vienna, said.

"This expansion continues to pose a threat to the security of the country and to the global containment of opiates abuse."

Illicit cultivation in southern Helmand province matched that of entire countries, added UNODC head Antonio Maria Costa in the report.

Income from the industry in Afghanistan tops three billion US dollars annually, officials say, and helps finance the hardline Taliban-led insurgency plaguing the country.

"Effective surgery on Helmand's drug and insurgency cancer will rid the world of the most dangerous source of its most dangerous narcotic and go a long way to bringing security to the region," Costa said.

The report noted the total area under poppy cultivation has reduced since a peak in 1991 thanks to the crackdown by governments in the Golden Triangle. But production is climbing because Afghanistan's yields are so high.

In the Golden Triangle, where Myanmar, Thailand and Laos meet, cultivation of poppies -- which can be used to produce heroin, morphine and opium -- has fallen by almost 80 percent since 1998, it said.

Poor farmers in this and other regions should be given assistance to develop alternative crops and prevent them from reverting to growing poppies and coca, the UNODC chief said.

Costa also called on the international community to better tackle local conflicts, such as in Afghanistan, which exacerbated the drug problem.

Sophisticated laboratories inside Afghanistan are now converting 90 percent of their opium into heroin and morphine before smuggling it around the world, UNODC officials said in Kabul on Monday ahead of the report's release.

Afghanistan had until two years ago exported the illicit drug almost exclusively in its raw form, the officials said.