ZARANJ - Security forces detained 35 farmers on the charge of cultivating the illicit poppy crop in their fields in southwestern Nimroz province, officials said on Saturday.
The arrests were made in Khashrod district following repeated warnings to farmers against growing the banned plant, the district chief told reporters. Mohammad Hasham Nawrozi said detainees would be handed over to relevant authorities for investigations.
Poppy cultivation almost doubled in insecure districts of Nimroz this year, said Mohammad Anwar Muradi, the Counternarcotics Department head.
About 1,000 hectors of land was cultivated with poppies in 2010, but this year the cultivation reached 1,900 hectors in insurgent-controlled areas, he said.
Except in two districts, poppy farming has been reduced to zero across the province due to the improved security situation, Muradi said.
Meanwhile, farmers accused the government of ignoring their demands and needs. Abdul Latif, a farmer from the Deh Mazang area, said they irrigated their farmlands with the help of hand pumps. "If we sow wheat or other food crops, we cannot meet our expenses."
Agriculture Director Mohammad Akbar Sharifi confirmed the problems faced by growers, saying 215 tons of seeds and 150 tons of fertilizers had been distributed to them last year, but this year they had not been provided with new supplies.