Export value of Afghan opium down 18% from 2008: UN

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    Export value of Afghan opium down 18% from 2008: UN

    VIENNA — Lower cultivation, output and falling prices of opium have seen its export value in Afghanistan drop 18 percent since last year, the UN office on drugs and crime (UNODC) said Thursday.

    In 2009, the potential gross export value of opium from Afghanistan was 2.8 billion dollars (1.95 billion euros), or about a quarter of the country's gross domestic product, the UNODC found in its 2009 Afghanistan Opium Survey published on Thursday.

    In 2008, the export value was 3.4 billion dollars, or a third of GDP.
    "Market forces are moving against the Afghan drugs trade as lower revenues and excess production have put a damper on supply," the UNODC said in a statement.

    The land surface dedicated to opium cultivation dropped this year by 22 percent from 2008, while production fell 10 percent to 6,900 tons.

    The number of people involved in growing opium also dropped by a third, the UN office said.

    "Annual fluctuations of opium cultivation and production do not tell the whole story," UNODC chief Antonio Maria Costa warned however, urging Afghan President Hamid Karzai to do more to fight corruption.

    "Success will come when Afghanistan?s farmers have sustainable licit livelihoods, when drug traffickers no longer operate with impunity, and when people no longer have to pay bribes for basic services," said Costa.

    "The alternative of a society wracked by drugs, insurgency, and corruption is untenable."


    AFP
    Dec 18 2009


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