Opium Crop in Afghanistan Hits Record High

Thursday, November 14, 2013
Opium farmer in Afghanistan

Afghanistan will likely be exporting more heroin than ever, thanks to a record opium crop this year, the United Nations has reported.


Opium poppy cultivation jumped 36% in 2013, a record high, according to the latest Afghanistan Opium Survey (pdf) conducted by Afghanistan’s Ministry of Counter Narcotics and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).


The bumper crop resulted in 5,500 tons of opium, which represented nearly a 50% increase over 2012.


With the U.S. military preparing to pull out next year and the Afghan Army backing off on guarding counternarcotics operations, farmers dedicated more acreage to opium production: about 209,000 hectares this year versus 154,000 hectares in 2012 and 193,000 in the peak year of 2007.


Two more provinces began producing opium (Balkh and Faryab), bringing the total in Afghanistan to 19 provinces—out of 34, which means more than 50% are now supporting the illicit drug trade.  Almost half of the production takes place in Helmand Province.


Countrywide eradication has decreased by 24%, while the number of deaths that occurred during that campaign increased by about a third (143 killed in 2013 versus 102 fatalities in 2012).


The 2013 opium crop was worth nearly $1 billion, or 4% of the country’s gross domestic product. It is predicted that Afghanistan’s opium economy will continue grow in 2014, even as the nation’s legal economy is expected to slow.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Afghanistan Opium Crop Cultivation Rises 36 Per Cent, Production Up 49 Per Cent (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime)

Afghanistan Opium Survey 2013 (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime; Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Ministry of Counter Narcotics) (pdf)

Opium Production in Afghanistan (Wikipedia)

U.S. Leaves behind a Booming Opium Market as it Exits Afghanistan (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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