Opium production in Afghanistan reaches record highs

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Monday, August 27, 2007

Opium Poppy

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) report released Monday, the opium produced in Afghanistan has doubled in the past two years, reaching record highs. The United Nations' report determined that 93% of the world's opium is now produced in Afghanistan, up 1% from last year.

In 2007, 193,000 hectares of land in Afghanistan were dedicated to opium poppy cultivation, representing a 17 percent increase over 2006. In addition, the yield per hectare was up from last year, due to favourable weather conditions. In 2007, opium yields were 42.5 kg per hectare, while in 2006 yields were 37.0 kg/ha. Overall in 2007, Afghanistan produced 8,200 tons of opium, an amount 34 percent greater than in 2006.

This marks the sixth consecutive year that production has increased despite the United States' US$600 million counter-narcotics program in Afghanistan. When commenting on the report’s overall findings, William B. Wood, the American ambassador to Afghanistan, said, "I think it is safe to say that we should be looking for a new strategy, and I think that we are finding one." He refers to the possibility of such enhanced U.S. efforts including spraying poppy crops with herbicides. This proposal has been opposed by both British and Afghan officials in the past.

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