Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017

Anti-Poppy Drive Needs World’s Help: Azami

Anti-Poppy Drive Needs World’s Help: Azami

KABUL - Counternarcotics Minister Salamat Azami on Tuesday, blaming the increase in poppy cultivation on insecurity, said continued international support could help eradicate the illicit plant.
Azami told a conference titled ‘Cooperation with Donor Organizations’ that deteriorated security, lawlessness and the decrease in foreign aid were reasons that led to increase in poppy cultivation in Afghanistan.
Pajhwok Afghan News in 2016 reported a 10 percent increase in poppy cultivation and 43 percent hike in drug production over 2015. While poppy eradication decreased by 91 percent.
According to the report, poppy cultivation increased by 25 times between 2001 and 2016, when 201,000 hectares of land was cultivated with the plant compared to 183,000 hectares in 2015.
Salamat Azami expressed her concern over the increasing poppy cultivation in Afghanistan and said the increase in drugs was fueling instability and posing a great challenge to economic and political development.
“Drug smugglers finance terrorist groups with money they earn from their illegal business, we are witness to deadly attacks carried out by these terrorists in our country and the region,” she said.
She said poppy cultivation increased after support from the international community to Afghanistan faded away. However, she did not provide more details about the international community’s support.
Reports suggest the international community has pumped billions of dollars in the counternarcotics effort in Afghanistan during the past 14 years.
An exact amount of the foreign aid is not known, but the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) says the US alone has donated around 8.5 billion US dollars to the war on Afghan drugs.
Azami asked donor countries to continue their support with Afghanistan in countering drugs.
Javid Ahmad Qaim, deputy counternarcotics minister, said the increase in poppy cultivation last year and likely this year forced them to organize a meeting for attracting foreign aid in eradicating the phenomenon.
He said resources for fighting narcotics were limited and foreign supporters in this regard were also fewer.
Most of the poppy was cultivated in Helmand, Badghis, Badakhshan and Nangarhar provinces, he said.
Creating alternative source of income for poppy growers, taking serious steps against drug smugglers and treating drug addicts were essential for eradication of illegal drug business, he said. (Pajhwok)