April 15, 2013
Twelve years after the fall of the Taliban, Afghanistan is heading for a near-record opium crop as instability pushes up the amount of land planted with illegal but lucrative poppies, according to a bleak UN report.
The rapid growth of poppy farming as western troops head home reflects particularly badly on Britain, which was designated “lead nation” for counter-narcotics work over a decade ago.
“Poppy cultivation is not only expected to expand in areas where it already existed in 2012 … but also in new areas or areas where poppy cultivation was stopped,” the Afghanistan Opium Winter Risk Assessment found.
The growth in opium cultivation reflects both spreading instability and concerns about the future. Farmers are more likely to plant the deadly crop in areas of high violence or where they have not received any agricultural aid, the report said.
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