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Afghan Poppy Cultivation At All-Time High

An Afghan security force member destroys an illegal poppy crop in eastern Kunar Province in April.

A U.S. watchdog says Afghanistan's poppy cultivation has reached an all-time high, despite the U.S. government spending $7.6 billion to stem production.

In a report released on October 21, the Office of the Special Inspector-General for Afghanistan Reconstruction said cultivation increased to 209,000 hectares in 2013, surpassing a 2007 record of 193,000, according to UN data.

The agency cited rising opium prices, an increase in cheap labor, and affordable deep-well technology as reasons for the increase.

It said that the rise in production "calls into question the long-term effectiveness and sustainability" of past U.S. efforts to stem production.

The U.S. Embassy in Kabul said the rise in poppy cultivation was "disappointing" news and that it looked forward to the new Afghan government "assuming a leadership role" in counternarcotics.