Afghanistan opium poppy supply plummets 95% after Taliban ban – U.N.

afghanistan-opium-poppy-supply-plummets-95%-after-taliban-ban-–-un.
Afghanistan opium poppy supply plummets 95% after Taliban ban – U.N.

Opium poppy production in Afghanistan has drastically decreased since the Taliban banned the cultivation of narcotics last year, according to a United Nations report. The report from the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) revealed that opium cultivation in the country fell to 10,800 hectares in 2023, down from 233,000 hectares the previous year, resulting in a 95% reduction in supply to 333 tons. This decline is causing difficulties for farmers in Afghanistan, where agriculture is a crucial source of income and the value of poppy exports has sometimes exceeded that of all formal exported goods. The UNODC warned that this significant drop in opium production could have severe economic consequences in a country where two-thirds of the population already requires humanitarian aid. Ghada Waly, the executive director of UNODC, emphasized the urgent need for investment in sustainable livelihoods to provide alternative opportunities for Afghan farmers. Waly stated that this situation presents an opportunity to combat the illicit opium market and its detrimental effects both locally and globally. While the reduction in opium supply from Afghanistan could potentially lead to a decrease in international opium use, the UNODC also cautioned that it may result in an increase in the global use of alternative substances like fentanyl or synthetic opioids. The Taliban’s ban on narcotics cultivation, implemented by their supreme spiritual leader in April 2022, aimed to destroy any remaining crops. However, experts note that during their previous rule, the Taliban banned poppy cultivation in 2000 but faced backlash from the population. Many provinces with a history of strong Taliban support, such as Helmand, have a significant concentration of opium poppy cultivation. The UNODC observed that while some farmers have switched to growing wheat, this alternative crop generates significantly less income than poppy. The report was compiled by Charlotte Greenfield and edited by William Mallard. The article adheres to The Thomson RushHourDaily Trust Principles.

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