The World Drug Report released by the United Nations Drugs and Crime Office’s (UNODC) on Thursday shows a decrease in opium cultivation in the country in 2019 in which Afghan farmers planted opium poppy on 163,000 hectares of land.
This, according to the report, is 38 percent less than in 2018 when 263,000 hectares was planted.
The UNODC report says that all the main opium poppy-growing provinces saw significant decreases in the amount of land growing poppy in 2019.
In Nangarhar, the report says, this decreased by 82 percent, Nimroz by 78 percent, Kandahar by 40 percent, Uruzgan by 38 percent, Farah by 35 percent and Helmand by 34 percent. On average, this reduction of 38 percent can be attributed mainly to developments in the opium market, UNODC found.
UNODC estimated the 2019 total farm-gate value as $404 million, a decrease of 33 percent from its 2018 value, according to an analysis by the Afghanistan Analysts Network (AAN). In 2019, the area under cultivation was the lowest recorded since 2013, AAN says in its analysis on the UN report.
In few last decades, Afghanistan has been suffering from three interconnected challenges: Terrorism, opium and Corruption. Besides fighting terrorist and corruption, in recent months, air strikes and operations has been intensified on terrorists, which as a result many drug trafficking centers, especially in southwest Afghanistan have been destroyed.
Since thousands of Afghans have been addicted in recent years and the number is growing with passing of each day, therefore government’s continued efforts and programs for full elimination of opium and drug factories are seriously required.
As opium is being cultivated in Taliban controlled areas, during the peace process, the international community should back Afghan government and put pressures on the group to pledge combat against the ugly phenomena and stop cultivation of opium and processing as well as trafficking of the drug.
Decrease in poppy cultivation is indeed a hopeful news for Afghan government and people, but the only long-term solution is rule of law and order along with generation of employment for the people. When peace prevails, the government should lead a more effective campaign for eliminating poppy corps and prevent the farmers from cultivating the plant.
If it is ignored, the terrorists would continue to earn through drug trade and would threaten the security of the whole region and the world. The UN, US and other countries should support Afghan government and realize the nature of the threat to the security of the world and Afghanistan’s economy and social order.