KABUL, Afghanistan, Oct. 23 (UPI) -- Opium production in Afghanistan is up 43 percent over 2015 levels with very little eradication efforts in place, according to the latest Afghanistan Opium Survey.
Opium is used to produce heroin. The use of this illegal drug is on the rise in the United States with stronger enforcement taking place for abuse of prescription opioids.
Data released Sunday by the Afghan Ministry of Counter Narcotics and the U.S. Office on Drugs and Crime showed a 10 percent increase in the amount of land used to grow poppies, from which opium is extracted, Al Jazeera reported.
Eradication efforts have dropped 91 percent since last year.
The increase in production is due to better farming conditions which have resulted in a higher yield, BBC reported. Producing opium is a crime in Afghanistan, but remains a robust cash crop for impoverished farming villages.
The commodity is taxed by the Taliban, which uses the money as a major source of income for its military activities.
The report, released Sunday, shows "a worrying reversal in efforts," said UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov.
Afghanistan has a stated government policy that prohibits opium production, but is often accused of looking the other way.
Earlier this year, one farmer said the local government was aware of his crop, but knows it is the only way anyone can make "decent money."
Afghanistan's southern region produces 54 percent of poppies. Helmand province produces the most, with more than 160,000 acres of land in cultivation. That area has also seen a resurgence in recent years of Taliban presence.
Last year, when eradication efforts were much stronger, seven insurgents and one law officer died when eradication teams were attacked. That region saw clashes between the Taliban and NATO-led forces before NATO withdrew in 2014.