Illegal opium cultivation stays on a high in Afghanistan

April 14, 2016 | 11:06 pm PT
Opium derived from poppy fields in remote parts of Afghanistan remain an economic essential for the country's poor. Julie Noce reports. Six-year old Nazer Gull is hard at work in this remote Afghan village. He's collecting resin from poppy flowers that will be turned into heroin, opium and other drugs. He and his extended family spend hours scraping off the sticky substance in this lucrative yet illegal business. Farmer Haji Janan says he needs to put food on the table.I have 20 people in my family, he says. We are poor and have lots of problems. There is no hospital or electricity in our village. Indeed it's hard to compete with this multi-billion dollar industry. The majority of the world's illegal opium supply comes from Afghanistan and forms a vital party of the economy. Even police and local government officials are thought to be involved although those claims are hard to substantiate. Blame is often lodged at the federal level. Deputy governor or Kandahar province Abdul Ali Shamsi. "We are continuously in contact with the Ministry of Counter Narcotics asking them to provide us capability, funds and assets to start the anti-narcotics campaign in Kandahar province as quickly as possible. The reason why we have not started the eradication of poppys yet is due to problems and shortages at the Afghan Ministry of Counter Narcotics." Cultivation in Kandahar province was down by almost 40 percent last year, according to United Nations estimates, part of a nationwide fall of about a fifth. But the drop was more likely a result of crop failures than the success of any eradication campaign.
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