Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Afghanistan now supplies 95 percent of world’s poppy, U.N. says

Afghanistan now supplies 95 percent of world’s poppy, U.N. says
After the harvest of this year’s crop, Afghanistan will supply 95 percent of the world’s poppy, The Associated Press reported Sunday.

The U.S. and NATO allies have proposed $475 million counternarcotics program, but debate has surfaced regarding the feasibility of the plan and its potential impact on Afghanistan’s poor agricultural communities.

“Afghanistan is providing close to 95 percent of the world’s heroin,” the State Department’s top counternarcotics official, Tom Schweich, said at a recent conference. “That makes it almost a sole-source supplier” and presents a situation “unique in world history.”

Officials argue that the eradication goals of the current proposal are too weak to combat the sheer volume of Afghanistan’s crop, which, the State Department estimates, has a “street value” of $38 billion. Schweich advocates a more extensive plan and asserts that farmers must be punished for not switching to other crops.

However, many question the offensive approach of the plan and if, in fact, it is beneficial to people who live among poverty and a Taliban insurgency in rural Afghanistan. The poppy crop has become a means of income for many poor Afghan farmers. Groups like the U.S. Agency for International Development express concern that a sudden removal of this income could not only perpetuate poverty in these regions but potentially funnel poppy farmers to extremist groups.

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