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Afghanistan poppy production could skyrocket due to spike in prices, drought

Posted by The Agonist on January 22nd, 2011

From our partners at The Agonist

Ben Arnoldy | New Delhi | January 21

CSM – Monitors are warning that 2011 may see a surge in Afghanistan’s poppy production as high prices at the farm gate, coupled with a crippling drought that has ravaged wheat production, provide powerful incentives for farmers to grow the outlawed crop.

While poppy provides Afghan farmers some security net from war and drought, money from the trafficking helps finance insurgents and fuel corruption inside the government. Sap from the colorful bulbs is used to make narcotics such as opium and heroin.

Afghan farmers planted the same amount of poppy in 2010 as the previous year, but the United Nations raised concerns this week that rising poppy prices will push up production in 2011. The farm-gate price of dry opium jumped 164 percent in 2010.

“We cannot continue business as usual,” Yuri Fedotov, executive director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), said in a statement accompanying the Jan. 20 release of his office’s 2010 opium survey. “If this cash bonanza lasts, it could effectively reverse the hard-won gains of recent years.”

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