Afghanistan's Opium Production Rises Drastically - UN Report
Afghanistan's opium production has risen sharply this year in comparison to last, according to an executive summary of the country's official opium survey released Sunday.
Opium production in the war-ravaged nation is up by 43 per cent, to 4,800 metric tons this year, according to a press release from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
The area under opium poppy cultivation also increased, to 201,000 hectares in 2016, a rise of 10 per cent compared to 2015, the statement said.
A rise in opium yields as well as a drop in eradication of 91 per cent were responsible for the large boom in production, the UNODC said.
During the latest eradication campaign, eight lives were lost and seven people were injured, the UNODC said. In 2015, five lives were lost and 18 people were injured in total.
As Afghan forces fight an ever-increasing insurgency across the country, there is rising insecurity and a lack of access to the poppy fields for eradication teams.
Helmand remained the country's main opium-producing province in 2016, accounting for nearly half of the national total.
Many of the districts in the embattled province in southern Afghanistan are controlled by the Taliban, making it nearly impossible for any eradication efforts to be carried out there.
Experts are worried about the Taliban's increasing reach in Helmand, where the insurgents can fill their war chest with proceeds from the billion-dollar opium industry.
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