Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Afghanistan is Poppy Center of the World

Poppy Field in Zabul - Photo by SSG Brian Ferguson, DVIDS
A recent report states that there is more poppy cultivation in Afghanistan now than there was in 2002 just after the Taliban were removed from power. In the last few years poppy cultivation in Afghanistan has grown significantly. Afghanistan produced almost 90 percent of the world's opium in 2013. The United States has spent more than $10 billion since 2002 on counter-narcotics in Afghanistan. Prospects for getting the opium trade under control are dim. The U.S. military essentially walked away from opium eradication. Those programs that were funded and implemented by Afghan National Security Forces were ridden with corruption. There are some very well trained and capable counter-narcotic units in the ANSF but they are constrained by the corruption of the Karzai regime and provincial governors. Congress is in a dour mood when it comes to continued funding for anything with the name of Afghanistan attached to it. It might be time to concentrate on the demand side instead of the supply side of the heroin problem. Read more in "Afghanistan Continues to be Hub of Poppy Cultivation", Voice of America, February 8, 2014.

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