November 13, 2013
Afghanistan’s opium production surged to record levels this year, despite international efforts over the past decade to wean the country off the narcotics trade, according to a report by the UN’s drug control agency.
The harvest this May resulted in 5,500 metric tons of opium, 49% higher than last year and more than the combined output of the rest of the world. Even Afghan provinces with some past successes in combating poppy cultivation saw those trends reversed, according to this year’s annual UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) report.
The withdrawal of foreign troops next year is likely to make matters worse, said Jean-Luc Lemahieu, the UNODC regional representative in Kabul. He warned that as international assistance falls off, the Afghan government will become increasingly reliant on illicit sources of income.
Uncertainty is also driving up poppy production, as farmers worried about the country’s future turn to the tried and tested.