View Full Version : U.N. Finds Afghanistan Opium Declined 2.5%, Still Producing 87% Of World's Crop

11-23-2005, 06:04 PM
UN finds Afghanistan opium decline



Cultivation of opium poppies declined in Afghanistan last year for the first time since 2001, a success that saw one in every five farmers abandon the drug-producing plant for legal crops, a UN report has said.

The decision by some 50,000 farmers to abandon the highly lucrative poppy was undercut by the fact that the 2005 crop was one of the best in years. As a result, total production decreased by just 2.5%, with Afghanistan still accounting for 87% of the world's supply, the UN office for Drugs and Crime said.

Still, even that shift suggested that Afghanistan's drug-eradication programme, begun in 2004, was having some effect on poppy production, and legal sectors of the economy are expanding, the report said.

"It may seem that in a country where reality is so stark, opportunities for the poor so limited, and consequences so dire, that there is not a great deal we can do to stop people from engaging in such a lucrative, albeit illegal, activity," it said.

"That, however, is not what this year's survey results reveal."

According to the report, 256,880 acres were set aside for poppy cultivation in 2005, down from 323,500 acres last year. But because of good weather and low disease, the average opium yield rose by 22%, meaning that 4,100 metric tons of opium were produced. That was down from 4,200 metric tons.

In addition, the report found that 309,000 households were involved in opium cultivation, down from 356,000 in 2004.

UN anti-drug chief Antonio Maria Costa said the prospects for 2006 were not good because of several worrisome indicators. They include reports of drug traffickers distributing poppy seeds for free; and farmers complaining that they haven't gotten enough help from the foreign community.

Also, he said, many farmers had stopped cultivating opium this year because of fears of the government's eradication campaign, but may go back if they see the programme hasn't worked.

© Copyright Press Association Ltd 2005, All Rights Reserved.

11-23-2005, 06:12 PM
World's opium source destroyed
Luke Harding in Hadda sees dramatic evidence of the war being waged on the drugs trade by the hardline Taliban


Luke Harding
Sunday April 1, 2001

The mud-walled village of Hadda in south-eastern Afghanistan used to consider itself lucky. The farmers who live here had not one but two lucrative sources of income.

There were the Buddhist relics that could be dug out in darkness from the many ancient stupas or shrines that littered the undulating valley and its jagged white mountains. And there was opium, a crop that flourished in neat plots, transforming the landscape every April into a sea of green and red.

But this year things are different. In a development that has gone unnoticed and unrewarded by the international community, Afghanistan's fundamentalist Taliban rulers have dramatically ended the country's massive opium trade, The Observer can reveal - a move that has also plunged Hadda's farmers into despondency and debt.

Western sources in Kabul yesterday confirmed poppy production in Afghanistan had virtually ceased. This follows an edict issued last year by the Taliban's reclusive leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar, declaring opium to be un-Islamic.

The first Hadda's farmers knew of it was when a group of black-turbaned soldiers armed with Kalashnikovs turned up in their village. 'The Taliban came here and saw there were poppies. They hit some of the people and told them they would be taken to prison and tortured if they planted more seeds,' farmer Abdul Rashid said.

'Then the elders of the village talked to them and told the Taliban we would destroy the poppies ourselves. It took us four days to do. We used a tractor and cows to plough up the fields.'

In neighbouring villages around the orange-scented town of Jalalabad, and in the fertile Helmand valley, which used to produce half of the country's opium, it is the same story. Driving through southern Afghanistan last week, The Observer found no evidence of poppy cultivation.

The trade last year produced 75 per cent of the world's heroin. It has now vanished. The distinctive plants that grew by the roadside have disappeared. They have been replaced by fields of lush but worthless wheat. 'I used to have one-and-a-half acres planted with poppy. Now we have nothing,' farmer Hussain Gul complained.

'I have to feed a family of 14. Should I buy clothes for my children? Should I feed them? Should I take them to the doctor?' he asked.

Farmer Khan Afzal added: 'I blame the Americans because they promised they would help us. But they didn't. They have given us no assistance.'

In Hadda, last year's opium crop was destroyed by hail. But the previous year Afzal and other smallholders who leased between one and eight acres of land made a profit of around £350 each, a fortune in Afghanistan where the average monthly salary is £3. Since the ban on poppy production was imposed, the price of a kilo of opium has soared from 3,000 Pakistani rupees (£35) to 40,000 (£470), sources say.

To date, this has had no discernible effect on the international heroin market, thanks to massive stockpiles in countries such as Pakistan, Iran and Turkey where the raw opium is refined. Intelligence experts from Britain and America believe the fall in production could lead to a worldwide shortage and price rise, although in reality production in countries such as Burma and Colombia is likely to increase to satisfy demand.

For a few farmers, the Taliban ban has led to even greater wealth - those with stockpiles of dark brown resin hidden in wet plastic bags have seen their income increase. But the ban has caused massive hardship to ordinary Afghans, already left reeling under the burden of war, drought and Soviet occupation. Skilled labourers who would descend on the Helmand valley every spring to harvest the milky-white opium are now jobless.

Faiz Ahmed Faiz, the Taliban's foreign affairs spokesman, yesterday said his Islamic government had completely eradicated poppy cultivation. 'It was an epic task,' he said. 'The response to this tremendous achievement from the international community was unexpected. They imposed more and more sanctions on us.'

The Taliban had begun by reducing opium production by a third, using religious scholars to convince the people. They then totally wiped out 'this menace' two months ago, he added.

The reality is more complex. Hashar, as the crop is known locally, has been growing in Afghanistan for centuries. The farmers of Hadda yesterday said poppies had flourished in their ancient valley for as long as they could remember: since the time of Afghanistan's deposed King Zahir Shah 30 years ago.

But under the Taliban, production increased spectacularly - to the point where Afghanistan became the world's largest opium producer, supplying 80 per cent of Europe's heroin.

The crop was trucked across Pakistan's deserts. It was then taken by boat across the Arabian Sea from the port of Gwadar. It also left the country via Iran, ending up in eastern Turkey, and in convoys through Afghanistan's lawless northern neighbours, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan. The Taliban collected an estimated $20 million in opium taxes.

Late last year, Mullah Omar appears finally to have agreed to Western demands to end opium production. He had hoped for some concessions in return, including diplomatic recognition. Instead, the United Nations imposed more punitive sanctions on Afghanistan in January because of the country's refusal to extradite the alleged Saudi terrorist Osama bin Laden.

The move badly backfired. Mullah Omar responded by destroying Afghanistan's two giant Buddhas, a disaster that many observers believe could have been averted.

Sceptics have questioned whether the Taliban have genuinely eradicated poppy cultivation. But all the evidence suggests they have. 'All the indicators are that they have done it. The prices have increased dramatically,' one informed UN source in Kabul admitted last week.

The UN's Drug Control Programme (UNDCP), meanwhile, which compensated farmers who switched from opium to other crops, was scrapped in December because of a lack of funding from the US and other donors.

Hadda's farmers are now praying for a change in policy - or a change in government. 'We don't have anything,' Rashid lamented yesterday, staring glumly at his green wheat field as rain fell. 'All the young people have gone to Pakistan. Ninety per cent of this area used to be cultivated with poppy. How much money can you make from wheat?'

Of the 3,000 people who had lived in Hadda, only 300 were now left, he added.

Even the trade in looted Buddhist statues had dried up. Between the second and seventh century Hadda was one of the most sacred spots in the Buddhist world, where pilgrims came from across central Asia to venerate a fragment of the Buddha skull and one of his teeth. But the hundreds of crumbling stupas dating from that era had already been ransacked, Rashid explained, by Soviet soldiers and the Mujahideen.

Their contents had been taken across the border to the frontier town of Peshawar. Only the wheat was left and a few goats. 'We are miserable. We have nothing. We have been forgotten by the world,' he said.

11-23-2005, 06:17 PM
Taliban And The Drug Trade
CRS Report For Congress
October 5, 2001


11-23-2005, 06:28 PM
West 'should buy the Afghan opium crop'
Telegraph (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2005/11/21/nopium21.xml&sSheet=/news/2005/11/21/ixhome.html)
(Filed: 21/11/2005)

The West should buy up Afghanistan's opium crop and license its use for pain-relief medicines rather than trying to destroy the crop, it is proposed today.

The Senlis Council, an international drug policy think-tank with operations in Afghanistan, says the planned deployment of 3,000 British troops to smash the narcotics trade (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml;jsessionid=PRZDAKJ3PZGZHQFIQMFSFGGAVCBQ 0IV0?xml=/news/2005/08/31/wafg31.xml) there is doomed to fail.

Since the fall of the Taliban, Afghanistan has once again emerged as the world's leading producer of opium. Almost all the heroin sold on Britain's streets comes from remote farms in the mountains, controlled by tribal warlords out of reach of the central government in Kabul.

The UN last year called Afghanistan a "narco-economy" responsible for 87 per cent of the world's supply of illegal opium, with a harvest of 4,100 metric tonnes.

Some 3.5 million Afghans are involved in the opium trade, which accounts for two thirds of its gross domestic product.

Senlis will present a feasibility study of its plan today at Chatham House in London. The idea is to establish a licensing system under which the Afghan government would control poppy cultivation for the production of opium-based pain killers, such as morphine and codeine, rather than trying to suppress it.

The study suggests that a military response to the problem will prove ineffective and simply destabilise the country's fledgling democracy. Emmanuel Reinert, the executive director of Senlis, said: "It is totally unrealistic even to attempt to eliminate the crop.

"How can one hope to achieve stability and gain the support of the farmers for a new Afghanistan through the destruction of the crops that provide for their families?"

Senlis argues that as there is a shortage of pain-killing drugs, and the EU allows farmers to grow opium under licence, the same opportunity should exist for Afghanis.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/stylesheets/portal/images/bullet.gif31 August 2005: Afghan opium farmers' anger at West threatens crop controls (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml;jsessionid=PRZDAKJ3PZGZHQFIQMFSFGGAVCBQ 0IV0?xml=/news/2005/08/31/wafg31.xml)

11-23-2005, 06:41 PM
What does this tell us? It tells us a few things.

The opium can be destroyed. The Taliban proved that.
The Taliban made a conscious effort to please the West by destroying the opium, and instead received sanctions.
The farmers in Afghanistan were asking for a change in Government.
The destruction of the opium left a lot of farmers poor, and in debt.
At the time of the invasion, Afghanistan opium production was at an all time low.
Now, 4 years after the invasion, Afghanistan opium production accounts for 87% of the world's supply.
From the congressional report, we see that it was believed Osama Bin Laden was heavily involved in drug trafficking. Supposedly for the financing of his terrorist network.
From the congressional report, we see that it was Tony Blair who said that the Taliban and Osama Bin Laden have teamed up, and have restarted opium production.

Basically what this shows is that opium production was a priority for the invaders of Afghanistan. It also shows that when they say they want to stop opium production in Afghanistan, it is a lie. If they wanted to stop it, they would have done so. They could have made it enticing for farmers to grow wheat, and destroyed what remained of the opium. If the Taliban, in their beat up trucks, etc... can destroy almost all of the opium, you think we, with our trillion dollar military can't? Opium is a product that makes a lot of money, for a lot of people. Afghanistan supplies, and supplied almost all of the world's opium. When the Taliban destroyed the opium, it took a lot of money out of a lot of people's pockets.

11-23-2005, 06:46 PM
It would be like Florida losing all of their orange supply. That would hurt a lot of people's pockets... Except instead of hurting Tropicana, and the farmers of Florida, it's hurting those who make money off of opium, and the farmers of Afghanistan.

11-23-2005, 06:55 PM
Senator Carl Levin says, "Estimates are that $500 billion to $1 trillion of international criminal proceeds are moved internationally and deposited into bank accounts annually. It is estimated that half of that money comes to the United States."

$500Billion a year of "criminal proceeds" are deposited into the American banking system.