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U.N.: Afghanistan Reduces Opium Cultivation

Opium cultivation in Afghanistan has decreased by 21 percent, according to a report published by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

The document, 2005 Opium Cultivation, Eradication and Production in Afghanistan, indicates opium cultivation in the country has dropped from 131,000 hectares (ha) in 2004 to 103,000 ha in 2005. Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director of UNODC attributed this to the success of the government of Afghanistan in persuading farmers to voluntarily refrain from poppy cultivation; to farmers’ apprehension that the official ban on opium cultivation could be enforced via eradication; and to current market conditions in Afghanistan: farm-gate prices for raw opium remain relatively low, offering farmers less incentive.

Despite these encouraging figures, the report also states that production of Afghan opium in 2005 stands at 4,100 tons, only slightly less than the 4,200 tons produced in 2004. Afghanistan remains the largest supplier of opium to the world, accounting for 87% of supplies. In terms of opium cultivation, however, Afghanistan’s share in the global total dropped from 67% in the 2004 report to 63% in 2005.

About 4,000 ha were eradicated by Provincial Governors in the spring of 2005. The Central Government also carried on two eradication campaigns, during which it had destroyed opium crops in another 1,000 ha. In total, more than 5,000 hectares were eradicated in Afghanistan in 2005, roughly 5% of this year’s opium cultivation.