Opium cultivation in Afghanistan falls for first time in 3 years

Opium cultivation in Afghanistan falls for first time in 3 years

Kabul  Opium cultivation in Afghanistan fell 29 per cent in 2018 down to 6,400 tonnes, following a bumper crop the previous year, according to a UN report published on Monday.

The fall in production in Afghanistan, the world’s largest opium producer, was mainly attributed to diminishing area under cultivation due to drought conditions and low market prices, Efe news quoted the report as saying.

“Significant decrease in production of opium this year recorded where this year only 6,400 tonnes opium were produced in the country, showing a 29 per cent decrease comparing to the past year’s 9,000 tonnes,” Afghanistan Counter Narcotics Minister Salamat Azimi at the presentation of the 2018 Afghanistan Opium Survey.

The prices of opium dropped for the second consecutive year, this time by 39 per cent, reaching an average of $94 per kg, which according to the report is the lowest since 2004.

Over the last one year, approximately 65,000 hectares of land under opium cultivation was destroyed, bringing it down from 328,000 hectares to 263,000 hectares.

Southern Afghanistan accounted for 69 percent of land under poppy cultivation, followed by the western part of the country (12 percent), according to the Minister.

In 2017, opium production recorded an 87 percent growth, touching 9,000 tonnes, which was the highest ever documented by the report jointly prepared by the Afghan government and the UN.

A year ago, Afghan and US troops launched a new strategy against drug trafficking by beginning to bomb the laboratories of the Taliban.

According to the US, the Taliban rake in some $200 million a year from sale of drugs to finance their insurgent and terrorist activities.