Daily Revolt

November 04, 2007

Cannabis Replacing Opium Poppies in Afghanistan

Not only are we not winning in Afghanistan, but the country has become a major drug producer, under our very noses. We can thank the neocon adventure in Iraq for this outrage:
Two years ago the province, which abuts Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, was covered with opium poppies - about 11,000 hectares of them, or 27,000 acres, nearly enough to blanket Manhattan twice. This year, after an intense anti-poppy campaign led by the governor, Balkh's farmers abandoned the crop. The province was declared poppy free, with 12 others, and the provincial government was promised a reward of millions of dollars in development aid.

But largely ignored in the celebration was the fact that many farmers in Balkh simply switched from opium poppies to another illegal crop: cannabis, the herb from which marijuana and hashish are derived.

As the Afghan and Western governments focused on the problem of soaring Afghan opium production, which hit record levels this year and remains a booming industry, cannabis cultivation increased 40 percent around the country, to about 70,000 hectares this year - from about 50,000 hectares last year, the United Nations said in an August report.

And even though hashish is less valuable per weight than opium or heroin, the report said, cannabis can potentially earn a farmer more than opium poppies because it yields twice the quantity of drug per acre and is cheaper and less labor-intensive to grow.

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