Afghanistan threaten progress in world drug control: UNODC
UNITED NATIONS (PAN):
The alarming increase in poppy cultivation in Afghanistan, along with increase in opium production in Burma and Columbia, pose a great threat to the progress made in drug control, head of UN Offices on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Antonio Maria Costa, has said. Releasing UNODC's 2008 World Drug Report at the United Nations, Costa expressed deep concern over the fact that opium cultivation continue to increase a record level in Afghanistan.
Observing that this is mainly due to the high level of cultivation in the five southern provinces including Helmand, Costa felt the need to bring these regions under effective control of the Kabul administration. AS of now it is the writ of the Taliban which run in these States. 'Some of the world's biggest drug producing regions (Afghanistan, Columbiaand Burma) is out of control of the central government,' Costa said, adding Afghanistan has also become a major producer of cannabis resin. Referring to the findings of the report, he said it provides evidence of a surge in the supply of illicit drugs in 2007. Afghanistan had a record opium harvest and the world opium production almost doubled between 2005 and 2007, he said. In 2007 Afghanistan alone accounted for over 92 percent of global opium production. In all it produced some 8,200 mt of opium. Giving details of the alarming increase in poppy cultivation in Afghanistan, Costa said the area under cultivation increased by 17 percent in 2007 – thus recording the largest ever recorded area under cultivation.
Afghanistan alone accounts for as many as 82 percent of the global area under cultivation. While large parts of the country during post-Taliban era have become opium free, it is the five southern States which pose a major threat now, he said. Over two-thirds of the opium poppy cultivation is located in the southern region of the country, where the southern province of Hilmand alone account for 53 percent of the total cultivation. Costa said Afghanistan has also seen increase in cannabis production and it appears to be approaching that of Morocco. In 2007, the area under cannabis in Afghanistan was equivalent to more than a third of the area under opium cultivation. UNODC estimates that the cannabis cultivation in Afghanistan increased from 30,000 ha in 2005 to 50,000 ha in 2006 and 70,000 in 2007, the report said. 'The steady increase of opiate output in Afghanistan continues to buck the trend of overall stabilization.
Such marked expansion over a five year period apparently defies even normal parameters of supply and demand – as it seems to have led to a large surplus of opiates,' the report said. The impact of increased poppy cultivation is also felt in neighboring Pakistan, said the report. 'In Pakistan, where opium poppy is grown in the Afghan-Pakistan border region, a cultivation increase of 10 percent to around 1,700 ha was reported,' it said.
Source: Frontier Post
Date: 29 Jun 2008