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Afghanistan's Taliban Issues Ban On Opium Poppy Cultivation

Afghan farmers in Kandahar Province harvest opium poppies at a plantation on April 3.

Afghanistan’s Taliban-led government has banned the cultivation of poppies, which are used to produce opium and other drugs.

The April 3 order by the de facto authorities said poppy crops would be burned and farmers would face punishments under Shari’a law.

The decree was read out to a gathering of reporters in Kabul by Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid.

The order also banned the production, use, or transportation of other narcotics.

Afghanistan is the world’s largest producer of opium poppies, and the annual poppy harvest is currently under way. The United Nations estimated in 2017 that the crop was worth $1.4 billion to the impoverished nation. The organization reported that last year was the sixth straight year of record opium production in Afghanistan.

The Taliban also banned poppy cultivation toward the end of their last spell in power in Afghanistan in 2000, but enforcement was lax because of domestic resistance.

The United States spent more than $8 billion trying to eradicate Afghan poppy cultivation during its nearly 20-year war, which ended with the U.S. withdrawal and the Taliban takeover in August 2021.

The country’s current dire economic situation has pushed many Afghans in the country’s southeastern provinces into growing the illicit crop.

Based on reporting by AP, Reuters, and AFP