Poppy cultivation in Afghanistan on the rise, says Afghan official

Nov. 13, 2013 at 1:29 AM
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KABUL, Afghanistan, Nov. 13 (UPI) -- Poppy cultivation is on the rise in Afghanistan, which is already the world's largest producer of opium, an official of the country's Interior Ministry warned.

Lt. Gen. Baz Mohammad Ahmadi, the ministry's senior counternarcotics department official, called Tuesday for more police personnel who can help intensify the war on drugs, the Pajhwok Afghan News reported.

Ahmadi spoke to reporters as his officers torched about 20 tons of seized opium in Deh Sabz district, northeast of Kabul. He said the current level of police personnel is not sufficient to combat the problem.

"Opium growing is a serious threat to coming generation. A survey shows the number of people addicted to drugs has increased to 1.6 million," Ahmadi said.

He said poppy cultivation has risen due to decreasing foreign support as U.S. and NATO forces prepare to withdraw from the country by the end of next year.

He said two years ago there were 14 provinces producing poppy crops, but now that number has increased to 17 provinces. Last year, Afghanistan reportedly accounted for 74 percent of the world's total opium.

Ahamdi urged his ministry to reactivate the Special Unit, which was responsible for eradicating poppy cultivation. The unit was reportedly dissolved and its responsibility transferred to provincial governors.

Khaama Press quoted Ahmadi as saying Kabul has become a major transit hub for illicit drug trafficking in the country. He warned that such trafficking only helps the militants and Mafia groups.

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