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Afghan-Canadian governor orders eradication of opium farms in Kandahar

  1. Terrapinzflyer
    The Afghan-Canadian governor of Kandahar has ordered a crackdown on the cultivation of opium after the United Nations urged him to stop the unabated growth of poppy production in his province.

    Tooryalai Wesa met Sunday with his district governors and chiefs of police, ordering them to do what they can to eradicate poppy farms amid mounting concerns that more farmers will turn to the illicit but lucrative crop this year.

    “Poppy cultivation is prohibited in Islam and illegal in the constitution. Therefore, we are supposed to ban this cultivation,” Mr. Wesa said during the meeting at his palace in Kandahar city, according to a statement from his office.

    “Although poppy cultivation has been reduced in a few districts of Kandahar, it is not enough. We are supposed to bring it to zero and pave the way to award logistical support for the farmers.”

    It is illegal in Afghanistan to grow opium, the raw ingredient used to make heroin. But the law is viewed by many farmers as more of a nuisance than deterrent and has been widely ignored for years by some police officers.

    Attempts at eradicating opium in the province have so far failed. But district governors and police chiefs said they were optimistic such efforts would work this year because security has improved.

    Mr. Wesa's announcement comes a month after the UN released a report warning that a dramatic jump in opium prices could lure more Afghan farmers to grow the narcotic, reversing the hard-won gains against the drug trade in recent years.

    “This bonanza [for some] may provide farmers with a strong incentive to continue growing opium and even expand cultivation in 2011,” the report said.

    There was a 48 per cent plunge in opium production last year mainly due to a plant disease that ravaged crops. That was the likely factor driving the average price of dry opium to $169 (U.S) per kilogram, up from $64 in 2009, according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime's Afghanistan Opium Survey.

    While opium production fell throughout most of Afghanistan, cultivation in the southern province of Kandahar, where the majority of Canada's 2,900 troops in the war-torn country are based, surged 30 per cent.

    “The significant expansion of cultivation in Kandahar province over the past two years must ... be stopped, and we urge the governor and other partners to play an active role in preventing any further increase and to ensure progress is made in eradication,” the report said.

    “Further growth in poppy cultivation in Kandahar would have an adverse effect on other provinces as well.”

    Just last week, Afghan National Army troops trained by the Canadian military seized 108 kilograms of what was believed to be opium in southeastern region of Panjwaii district.

    “The time is right to do this,” Mr. Wesa said in a brief interview after the meeting.

    The UN estimates that 25,835 hectares of land in Kandahar province was used to grow opium last year – roughly half the geographic size of Montreal. That's more than five times the area used to cultivate opium in 2004.

    The opium growing season lasts from December to May and is about six times more profitable than wheat.

    It helps pour cash into the coffers of insurgent groups and is a large factor behind the spike in violence ISAF forces and Afghan civilians encounter during the country's summer fighting season.

    With the funds from the trade of opium and other drugs, insurgents pay young, often unemployed men eager for a quick buck to take up arms, plant improvised explosive devices, serve as spies or help their cause in any other way possible.

    Mr. Wesa said people caught growing opium would face a prison sentence of one year.


    TARA BRAUTIGAM
    KANDAHAR, Afghanistan— The Canadian Press
    Published Sunday, Feb. 20, 2011

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news...on-of-opium-farms-in-kandahar/article1914531/

Comments

  1. Terrapinzflyer
    Afghans taught by Canada make big drug bust

    PANJWAII DISTRICT, Afghanistan — A frail Afghan man is brought before Capt. Patrick Chartrand, begging for the return of five bags full of drugs that weigh about twice as much as him.

    "All the people are growing opium," the man, who appears to be in his 60s, says in Pashto.

    "I am a poor man. What can I do?"

    A group of Afghan National Army officers mentored by Canadians seized 108 kilograms of what's believed to be opium earlier this week. Military officials will test it later for verification.

    It is the largest drug haul in an eastern swath of Panjwaii district since the Royal 22e Regiment's Bravo Company arrived in the area in early December.

    "I was pretty surprised about this," said Chartrand, 32. "I was not expecting that in my day when I woke up."

    For Chartrand, the catch shows that the local kandak, or Afghan battalion, is taking a serious stance against poppy production in a country that is the world's primary producer of opium, the raw ingredient used to make heroin.

    "It's pretty obvious that there's a lot of farmers around here that are cultivating poppy, cultivating other elicit material," he said.

    "I'm not too sure about how they enforce the laws ... but I know that at least the kandak here is pretty straightforward on that.

    "They want to make sure that the people don't grow any type of illegal drugs, although it's kind of hard to control that."

    The seizure comes a month after the United Nations released a report warning that a dramatic jump in opium prices could lure more Afghan farmers to grow the illicit crop this year, undoing the hard-won gains against the drug trade in recent years.

    There was a 48 per cent plunge in opium production last year mainly due to a plant disease that ravaged crops. That was the likely factor driving the average price of dry opium to US$169 per kilogram, up from US$64 in 2009, according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime's Afghanistan Opium Survey.

    "This bonanza (for some) may provide farmers with a strong incentive to continue growing opium and even expand cultivation in 2011," the report said.

    While opium production dropped throughout most of Afghanistan, cultivation in the southern province of Kandahar, where the majority of Canada's 2,900 troops in the war-torn country are based, rose 30 per cent.

    The UN estimates that 25,835 hectares of land in Kandahar province was used to grow opium -- roughly half the geographic size of Montreal.

    The opium growing season lasts from December to May and is about six times more profitable than wheat. It helps pour cash into the coffers of insurgent groups and is largely responsible for the spike in violence ISAF forces and Afghan civilians encounter during the country's summer fighting season.

    With the funds from the trade of opium and other drugs, insurgents pay young, often unemployed men eager for a quick buck to take up arms, plant improvised explosive devices, serve as spies or help their cause in any other way possible.

    Back in the rural district of Panjwaii, the drugs are weighed and stored in a locked sea container. The kandak's operations officer tells Chartrand he wants to burn the drugs.

    "It's your decision," Chartrand replies.

    The man whose drugs were seized is made to stand in front of the five bags as Afghan troops take photographs. They decide to let him go, but before they do, they want to make an example of him.

    "It's so that they can show the population that if you're caught with drugs that you will be punished, although in this case they didn't arrest him and that's their business," Chartrand says.

    "We let them decide what is the punishment for someone doing illegal activities and we don't get involved in that. It's an Afghan issue."


    The Canadian Press
    Date: Friday Feb. 18, 2011

    http://www.ctv.ca/CTVNews/TopStories/20110218/drug-bust-afghanistan-110218/
  2. mickey_bee
    And people wonder why young men with families to feed join the Taleban.....

    First you occupy their country -(after they've done nothing to your nation)- and kill more civilians than soldiers on both sides put together, then you attempt to eradicate their sole form of income.

    We're not talking about drug kingpins here, we're talking about extremely poor people who literally rely on each year's harvest to feed their families - essentially as a matter of life and death.

    Incidentally, when did the UN change from it's intelligent stance of trying not to push moderate farmers into the hands of the Taleban by not destroying their livelihood, to, well, destroying their livelihood?

    Iraq was the biggest lie and fuck-up I think the Western population has been fed, but Afghanistan - no one with a grain of sense could see firstly, WHO to fight, and secondly, WHY?

    In this time of financial cuts, why oh why are we planning more manouevres in a completely unwinnable 'war'. What we should be doing is repairing the damage we've done, apologising for it - remember we've killed a hell of alot more Afghan civilians than insurgents or UN forces, and getting out of their country so that they can rule it the way they want, without strange men with tanks, guns and jets bombing all over the place.

    How would you feel if your local city was occupied by the Taleban, and bombings, shootings, and finding out your place of work or home and family had been blown up the day before due to, 'collateral damage'. That's not to mention the racist graffiti and general vandalism the US forces were allowed to do in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Most likely, you'd pick up a gun, or learn how to make an IED.........remember, people, no matter what race or wherever they come from in the world, do things for a reason.
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