Photo: Flickr – DVIDSHUB
Rising opium prices have upped the ante in Afghanistan, and farmers have responded by posting a 61 per cent increase in opium production, compared to 2010, according to BBC News.A year after a plant infection cut yields in half, Afghani farmers — responsible for 90 per cent of the world’s opium — came back strong, producing 5,800 tons of opium, the main ingredient in heroin.
While a few areas saw a decrease in cultivation, thanks to government measures, everything else is up: the amount of the plant produced, the provinces in which it is cultivated (from 14 to 17), and the price, which is up 43 per cent from a year ago.
Despite overtures by NATO to provide development funding to areas that stopped poppy cultivation, the profits of this lucrative industry proved to be a stronger pull. Three provinces that were deemed “poppy-free” are now heroin produces again.
The amount of opium produced by Afghanistan is incredible considering that only 12 per cent of the country is suitable for growing crops, according to the Strategic Studies Institute. But growing opium has become so prevalent that 70 per cent of the population is involved in production.
The southern regions, which have seen the most violence since the start of the war in 2001, produce the vast majority of the country’s opium. Since the Taliban reaps much of the profits from Afghanistan’s number one industry, it’s hard to imagine making a dent in the insurgency without providing a real, profitable alternative for the otherwise economically destitute Afghan people.
For the record, the per-hectare price of heroin is now $10,700.
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