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Douglas Capraro Douglas Capraro

Graphic: Opium Production in Afghanistan Hits Record High as NATO Troops Pull Out


Production has been rising for years, despite the US spending billions of dollars to prevent it.

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The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) reports that 2014 opium production in Afghanistan could be up to 17% higher than last year, reaching a record 6,400 tons, while the area now under poppy cultivation is 7% bigger than last year. Yury Fedotov, head of the UNODC, believes that Afghanistan is in danger of becoming a “narco-state.”

Cultivation has been rising since 2010, in spite of the $7.6 billion spent by the US government to eradicate opium poppies since the Taliban were driven from power in 2001. Most of the poppies are grown in Helmand province in the south of the country, where British troops were stationed until last month. Despite UK and US efforts to cut opium production, the UNODC says that poppy eradication has decreased by 63% in 2014, as NATO pulls out combat troops.

Afghanistan produces more than 80% of the world’s opium and the UNODC predicts that the rise in production, which is resulting in lower “farm-to-gate” opium prices, will continue.