Afghan Opium Fight Hurts Poorest

Afghan Opium Fight Hurts Poorest
November 28th, 2006  
Team Infidel

Topic: Afghan Opium Fight Hurts Poorest

Afghan Opium Fight Hurts Poorest
USA Today
November 28, 2006
Pg. 1

Report: Heroin trade thrives
By Donna Leinwand, USA Today
U.S. and European efforts to end heroin production in Afghanistan have done little to hamper the drug industry and have hurt the country's poorest people, according to a report by the United Nations and the World Bank.
The report, released today, is the latest indication of the difficulties faced by the British-led effort to eradicate Afghanistan's opium crop, which drives the economy in parts of the embattled nation and has helped to fund a resurgence of the Taliban. The report says the cultivation of poppies that produce opium, from which heroin is made, permeates daily life in Afghanistan, and eliminating the illegal drug trade there could take decades.
The opium trade accounts for about $2.7 billion in Afghanistan's economy — equal to more than one-third of the nation's gross domestic product — and is responsible for thousands of jobs, the report says. The Taliban government, which had harbored al-Qaeda, virtually eliminated opium production in 2001, before U.S.-led forces toppled it. Production has soared since, even as the United States and its allies have stepped up efforts to kill fields of opium and persuade farmers to grow other crops.
Opium has remained the nation's most lucrative crop by far, and drug traffickers — through incentives and intimidation — have kept farmers in the opium business across Afghanistan, which the United Nations says produces about 87% of the world's opium. Last year, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Afghanistan produced 4,100 metric tons of opium, nearly as much as the biggest harvest in 1999. The U.N. predicts a record harvest in 2007.
Today's report describes how opium farmers' flexibility has helped harvests increase. When government officials end the opium trade in one province, opium brokers typically move cultivation and trade elsewhere, the report says.
Counternarcotics efforts also have fueled corruption, the report says. Farmers who can afford it have bribed local officials to preserve opium crops, while the poorest farmers have been driven deeper into debt when their crops are destroyed, the report says. Investigators found several instances in which farmers planned to replant opium to pay their debts.
The report also says local government officials sometimes help drug lords drive competitors out of the market in exchange for a cut of the profits or protection payments.
Antonio Maria Costa of the U.N. Office of Drugs and Crime has recommended focusing agents on areas with less opium cultivation to keep such farming from spreading and help establish an alternative economy. The U.S. State Department's Anne Patterson, acknowledging “there is no silver bullet” to the opium problem, has said much of the growth in production is in areas with weak local governments.
November 28th, 2006  
Hell, help these poor folks pack a bowl and they'll get over it.

Similar Topics
Pakistan Link Seen In Afghan Suicide Attacks
Afghan Army Could Help Unify A Nation
NATO Troops Kill 48 Afghan Militants
Heroic fight for British Afghan base
Afghan, Iraqi insurgents collaborating in fight against US