By: Shukria Kohistani
Calling the government’s 17-year program as failed to fight narcotics’ cultivation and trafficking, the minister of public health expressed concern on increase in number of drug addicts in the country.
He suggested that if the government is not able to prevent illegal drugs’ cultivation and trafficking should declare it as legal and have some plans to uproot it.
The legalization of narcotics’ cultivation and sale is a plan recently proposed at the highest level of the government of Afghanistan. Although, the plan has not been accepted by the government’s leaders so far, but serious objections have been made to it.
A number of Afghan officials say that the government is not capable to eliminate drug trafficking and the domestic and international mafia act in coordination with each other to expand poppy cultivation in Afghanistan.
Despite this, Mirza Mohammad Yarmand, former deputy minister of counternarcotic has also called the legalization of drug trafficking as a way to reduce farmers’ interest to poppy cultivation.
The government has made effort to introduce alternative plants such as saffron, aloe vera, and establishing greenhouses to farmers instead of narcotics’ cultivation, but the move failed to affect visibly in decreasing poppy cultivation in the country.
A number of experts believe that the drug mafia are doing their best to create problems before promoting drugs’ cultivation through different ways.
Calling the government’s weakness and lack of entities to eradicate poppy cultivation another factor before increasing poppy cultivation, Yarmand stressed that uprooting this phenomenon will be impossible unless the international community and neighboring countries cooperate with Afghanistan.
Former spokesperson to the ministry of defense Dawlat Waziri said that if war is stopped, the government’s plan to eradicate poppy cultivation will follow with fruitful results.
Before collapsing Taliban regime in 1996, 71000 hectares of lands had been cultivating poppy and the figure reached to 8000 hectares when the group broken down.
But the cultivating areas have considerably increased over the last 17 years, as in 2018, Afghanistan had produced 80 percent of the world’s total narcotics demand.
According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the poppy cultivation lands had reached to 328000 hectares in 2017, during which 9000 tons of drugs had been produced, a figure shows 87 percent increase in compare with 2016.
In 2018, however, narcotics’ cultivation faced 29 percent decrease, but according to the government’s officials, Afghanistan produced 80 percent of the world’s narcotics demand in that year.
Besides, the number of addicts have been increasing in these years and their number reached to 3.3 million in 2018. The number shows 11 percent of the country’s total population.