Sunday, March 8, 2009

Pressured On Opium Crops, Many Afghan Farmers Switch To Cannabis

March 07, 2009
By Ron Synovitz
Opium-poppy eradication has been hailed as a success in much of Afghanistan's north and east, allowing counternarcotics officials to declare 18 provinces there as "poppy-free" despite record opium cultivation in the south and southwest.
But UN officials tell RFE/RL that many former opium farmers in those poppy-free areas have switched to another lucrative and illegal drug crop: cannabis.As a result, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) says, Afghanistan is now the world's largest producer of two illegal drugs -- heroin from opium poppies and cannabis.
The UNODC's latest assessment on the Afghan narcotics trade, released in February, says cultivation of opium poppies in Afghanistan is likely to fall this year compared to the record crops of previous years.It says the 18 provinces labeled "opium-free" in 2008 will probably remain so in 2009. It also says seven other Afghan provinces are likely to reduce opium-poppy cultivation this year -- including the biggest opium-producing province, Helmand, in the volatile south.

Afghanistan's New Cash Crop
NYT, Nov 4, 2007

Afghanistan cannabis production

Al Jazeera, December 3, 2007

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