Hard times for Afghan opium farmers as price falls

By | September 2, 2009

Hard times for Afghan opium farmers as price falls

Growing opium is hardly worth the risk any more for Dost Mohammad, a farmer in Helmand, a province of Afghanistan which by itself produces almost enough opium to satisfy all the heroin addicts on earth.

“Opium farmers benefit nothing from the crops and spend their day and night in misery,” he told Reuters.

“We spend six months in the field working hard, then the government can destroy it in a single day.”

According to the United Nations, prices for opium have plummeted in Afghanistan, causing farmers to switch to other crops, a rare bit of good news for Western efforts in a country where an 8-year-old war is at its most violent.

The paste, produced from the bulbous pods of the poppy flower, is refined to produce heroin and exported around the world.

Two years ago, a farmer growing opium could earn 10 times as much as a farmer growing wheat on the same piece of land. Today, it is only worth three times as much. For many, that means producing the drugs is no longer worth the risk or effort.

According to the U.N.’s annual report into Afghanistan’s drug harvest, 800,000 Afghans abandoned the trade this year. Opium, which accounted for 27 percent of Afghanistan’s economy in 2002, now accounts for just 4 percent.

via Hard times for Afghan opium farmers as price falls | Reuters.

2 thoughts on “Hard times for Afghan opium farmers as price falls

  1. Ann

    After the fall of Communism that part of the world was of interest to the U.S. government, because of the oil reserves in the neighboring Caspian region.

    So, the U.S. sided with some opium-growing warlords to force their interests in that area. In so doing, the warlords or their allies had access to transportation or other means to transport their product to neighboring countries for distribution and sale.

    This is a major part of the reason there was increase use of heroin and the dreadful consequences of its use in Russia and other former Soviet satellites after the fall of the Soviet Union into the early and mid-1990s, when official policing sectors of society were changing and weak.

    Now, it seems, the situation is a bit different. Market demand has dropped.

  2. Ann

    Oh, I forgot to mention.

    Heroin is normally injected intravenously. And, because of the economic circumstances immediately after the fall of Soviet Union, as there were no social programs, the poor suffered by merely doing without. Among those who injected drugs, the custom of sharing needles was widespread.

    And, this is the reason for the spread of AIDS after the fall of the Soviet Union, where the greatest numbers of those who became victim to the infection were among drug users. Russia and Ukraine, for example, had an unprecedented increases in HIV infections, after the fall.

    Once more … thanks to America!

Leave a Reply