Tuesday, September 4

Afghani Farmers: Just Say "Free Market Economy"

The always interesting Onion made sport of this depressing news, but Afghanistan, which once produced 70% of the world's opium supply is back at it.

According to a report from the BBC, United Nations drug officials say the new Afghan Government has failed miserably to eradicate the opium poppy crop despite
a government campaign that was launched in April.

The UN estimates that more than a billion dollars worth of the crop is now being produced in farms in the country. The UN says production levels are now close to those of the late 1990s before the Taleban banned poppy cultivation entirely.

The UN report says that 90,000 hectares (factoid: a hectare is 2.47 acres) of poppy were planted this year, and 60,000 to 70,000 hectares will have been harvested by the end of the year.

A sad fact is that poppy production has also reduced the area of irrigated wheat by about 10%, meaning that opium production is far more profitable than growing wheat to feed people and animals.

"The returns and employment opportunities are high and the risks are seen to be low given the large numbers of farmers involved and the perceived improbability of prosecutions," concluded the UN report.

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