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Afghanistan's Opium Production Continues To Rise, UN Report Says

Afghanistan harvested 6,800 tons of opium in 2021, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime said. 

Afghanistan’s illegal opium production increased by 8 percent in 2021 compared to last year, the United Nations said, as the opiates from the war-torn country continue to dominate the international black market, supplying 8-in-10 users worldwide.

Afghanistan harvested 6,800 tons of opium in 2021, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said in a report on November 16.

Income from Afghan opiates have amounted to between $1.8 billion and $2.7 billion so far this year domestically, the report said. But “much larger sums are accrued along illicit drug supply chains outside Afghanistan,” it added.

Around one-tenth of the Afghan economy is propped up by the opium trade, according to the UNODC findings.

Opium prices almost doubled in August compared to May, the UN agency said. The report’s authors blamed the price rise on increased political uncertainty following the hard-line Taliban’s takeover of the country.

Afghan media cited a farmer from the southern province of Kandahar who claimed he had turned to opium cultivation because there are no other alternatives for farmers like him.

“There is no work, all the families are in debt, and everyone’s hope is opium,” Mohammad Wali told TOLOnews earlier this week.

Meanwhile, the Taliban-led government in Kabul says that it’s trying to find alternatives for the poppy farmers.

The UNODC report predicts that the 2022 opium harvest “will be based on decisions that farmers will make in November 2021, when they are starting to sow opium poppy.”

It called for international aid to support local programs to reduce opium production.

Afghanistan is the world’s largest opium producer, accounting for nearly 90 percent of the global production.

Based on reporting by dpa and