Friday, November 03, 2006

2007 poppy harvest may match record

Next year's opium harvest in Afghanistan may match this year's record levels, Associated Press quotes an anonymous US official predicting. This crop this year was an estimated 6,000 tonnes, producing 600 tonnes of heroin. The planting of next year's crop has now begun.

The official directly linked the size of the harvest with Afghan government's loss of control of the southern provinces of the country, where opium poppy is mainly grown. "We've actually lost a lot of governance in a number of districts in Kandahar, Helmand, and Uruzgan, where the government isn't flying the flag," the official said. "You've got Taliban there that are more in control than the government."

When it is harvested next spring, the size of next year's crop compared to this year's will be a clear indicator of whether NATO is succeeding in bringing greater stability to Afghanistan.

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