Opium production increases 32% in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan

Opium cultivation in Afghanistan jumped 32% throughout 2022 regardless of the ruling Taliban regime’s ban on narcotics, based on an annual report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

“The 2022 opium crop in Afghanistan is the most profitable in years, with cultivation up by one-third and prices soaring even as the country is gripped by cascading humanitarian and economic crises,” said the UNODC report launched on Tuesday.

Opium capital of the world

This year has seen farmers cultivating opium on about 576,000 acres of land, in comparison with 437,000 acres estimated throughout 2021, making it the third largest cultivation year since 1994, when UNODC monitoring first started. Only 2017 and 2018 noticed extra Afghan soil used to domesticate opium poppies.

Workers accumulate poppy tears, or uncooked opium, at a plantation of poppies in Zhari district in Kandahar, Afghanistan, March 28, 2022.


Afghanistan has an extended historical past of cultivating opium, a drug in its personal proper that is additionally the key ingredient in a variety of other highly addictive narcotics, from heroin to a variety of opioid painkillers.

The nation remained the main producer of the profitable drug even throughout the U.S.-led invasion, regardless of its personal authorities and partnering nations spending tens of millions of {dollars} in a bid to eradicate the crop. Southern Afghanistan, the birthplace of the Taliban the place 1000’s of U.S. troops had been based mostly throughout the two-decade conflict with the Islamic extremist group, has been seen because the hub of opium cultivation since 2001.

“Cultivation continued to be concentrated in the south-western parts of the country, which accounted for 73 percent of the total area and saw the largest crop increase,” the U.N. report mentioned, noting that an estimated 80% of the world’s whole opium crop comes from Afghanistan.

“Largely exempted from the decree”

After the Taliban retook energy in Afghanistan in August 2021, the group’s reclusive chief Mawlawi Haibatullah Akhundzada issued a decree outlawing the cultivation of all medicine, together with the opium poppy, throughout the nation.

“If anyone violates the decree, the crop will be destroyed immediately, and the violator will be treated according to Sharia law,” warned Akhundzada.

But regardless of his decree, the Taliban has reportedly turned a blind eye and allowed farmers to proceed cultivating their opium crops.

Afghanistan’s financial system remains to be reeling from the sudden withdrawal of worldwide funds, as most overseas governments refuse to work with the Taliban. Starvation is an imminent menace for tens of millions of individuals in the nation, and depriving farmers of their livelihood can be a tough transfer for Afghanistan’s rulers.

Afghanistan starvation disaster is “pure catastrophe” amid Taliban rule, U.N. says


“The opiate trafficking from Afghanistan has been ongoing without interruption since August 2021,” mentioned the UNODC report. “This year’s harvest was largely exempted from the decree.”  

“Trapped in the illicit opiate economy”

Even earlier than Afghanistan fell again into Taliban arms its financial system was in free-fall, because of the speedy withdrawal of coalition forces, the COVID-19 pandemic and a extreme drought. But because the group reasserted its energy, worldwide governments together with the U.S. froze Afghan nationwide reserve belongings, worldwide help was lower off, unemployment soared, new financial sanctions had been imposed, and a humanitarian disaster deepened precipitously.

“Afghan farmers are trapped in the illicit opiate economy,” mentioned UNODC Executive Director Ghada Waly in the report. “The international community must work to address the acute needs of the Afghan people.”

Opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan
Producers put together opium poppy luggage to promote as farmers proceed to domesticate opium poppy on their lands in Kandahar, Afghanistan, December 18, 2021.

Murteza Khaliqi/Anadolu Agency/Getty

The UNODC report mentioned Afghan farmers have made $1.4 billion from opium gross sales this year, greater than triple the quantity they made in 2021. But even with their enormous windfall Afghan farmers will not have been significantly better off, as inflation has additionally soared throughout the identical interval, sending meals costs hovering as much as 35%. 

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