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Tuesday, May 24, 2022
EditorialBan on poppy cultivation

Ban on poppy cultivation

A decree by the Afghan Taliban ordering a ban on the cultivation of drugs, including opium poppy, across Afghanistan, is a welcome development. It is an attempt to appease a demand by the international community regarding drug control. The family of narcotics to which heroin, morphine and other oft-abused substances such as codeine belongs is known as opiates. Heroin is processed in a way that allows faster absorption into the system, making it a more potent form of morphine, but both are refined from opium, a naturally occurring product of the opium poppy plant. Afghanistan has been at the centre of the global trade in illicit drugs, with more than 85 percent of the world supply originating there.

Within Afghanistan, the cultivation of poppy is concentrated in the south and west of the country, with Helmand province alone accounting for more than half of Afghanistan’s total production. As Afghanistan’s importance in the global opiate trade has grown, the trafficking routes out of the country have become increasingly valuable. The trafficking of opiates out of Afghanistan to the outside consumer markets is a highly lucrative business: the annual global market for illicit opiate drugs is estimated at $65 billion. According to the UNODC estimate, income from Afghan opiates amounted to $1.8 to $2.7 billion in 2021 inside Afghanistan. Afghan opiates are trafficked all over the world, but the most important end markets are Russia, Europe, and Iran.

Pakistan is stated to be the main exit point for opiates leaving Afghanistan. The long border between the two countries is virtually impossible to control, and smuggling across the borders is very common. Opiate production has remained a main source of earning for Afghan farmers compared to other crops like wheat. So, the ban will create difficulties for the Afghan agriculture economy. But ill effects of the drugs are enormous all over the world. Not only its production should be banned but the smuggling of the narcotics needs also be checked.

Pakistan and Afghanistan enjoy a history that is based on give and take policy. For decades, both the states have used each other’s resources for their respective advantages. Drug trafficking is one of those underhand deals that have been in vogue and going on for years between both the states. For Afghanistan, there is no other alternative as a large proportion of its economy depends on the cultivation and trade of opiates. Unless alternative sources of income generation are provided to local Afghans, there is little hope that poppy cultivation will be abandoned in a resource-hungry state like Afghanistan. Already Afghanistan is passing through a critical phase and sustaining on a poor economy. It is very difficult for the Afghan people to rely on honest means for earning their bread and butter. It is the responsibility of the stakeholder states to play their respective role in taking steps to better the Afghan economy by creating job opportunities and setting up large business concerns. Effective international cooperation is required to deal with the menace of drug trafficking out of Afghanistan.

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