Afghan opium supply outstrips demand

Nov. 27, 2008 at 5:58 PM
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UNITED NATIONS, Nov. 27 (UPI) -- The Taliban has been working to keep the price of opium up by cutting poppy production in Afghanistan, a U.N. report released Thursday said.

Antonio Maria Costa, head of the U.N. drug office, said opium poppy production is now concentrated in seven provinces, mostly in the south, where the Taliban is strong, The New York Times reported. While the amount of land used for poppies has dropped 19 percent, production is down only 6 percent because of a good growing season this year.

The United Nations estimates that $300 million in opium profits went to insurgents in Afghanistan last year.

"With 2 to 3 hundred million dollars a lot of war effort can be funded," Costa said.

But prices have dropped about 20 percent because, after three years of good harvests, the supply of opium far exceeds global demand. Costa said that the price would have dropped even more if opium had not been kept off the market by the Taliban, drug lords and even some farmers.

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