Poppy Cultivation Increased 32% From Past Year: UNODC

Opium prices have risen following the announcement of the cultivation ban in April.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said that the cultivation of opium poppies in Afghanistan has increased by 32 percent over the previous year, to 233,000 hectares – making the 2022 crop the third largest area under cultivation since monitoring began.” 

But the deputy minister of Counter-Narcotics denied the surge of poppy cultivation in the country.

“Afghan farmers are trapped in the illicit opiate economy, while seizure events around Afghanistan suggest that opiate trafficking continues unabated,” said UNODC Executive Director Ghada Waly, launching the new survey.

“The international community must work to address the acute needs of the Afghan people, and to step up responses to stop the criminal groups trafficking heroin and harming people in countries around the world.”

According to UNODC, opium prices have risen following the announcement of the cultivation ban in April.

“Income made by Afghan farmers from opium sales more than tripled, from $425 million in 2021 to $1.4 billion in 2022,” the report reads.

Meanwhile, the Financial Times reported that the price of illegal drugs in Afghanistan has risen by 50% since the Islamic Emirate outlawed the trade, citing data gathered from across the country by UK-based Alcis, which conducts satellite imagery research.

Some Afghan farmers said that they are obliged to cultivate poppy to make an end meet to their families.

“When the Islamic Emirate issued a decree in this regard, the prices increased. 7kg of opium is now sold for 150,000 Afs. This shows a surge between 50 to 60 percent,” said Abdul Qudos, a farmer in Uruzgan.

“The prices have increased now. The prices of opium were low previously. The prices have surged and thus the people are interested in cultivating poppy,” said a farmer in Uruzgan.

The head of the office for the Deputy Minister of Counter-Narcotics, Haseebullah Ahmadi, said that they have conducted 760 raids over the past two months and 930 people were arrested.

“We deny this report. The cultivation of poppy and narcotics after the decree of the (leader of the Islamic Emirate) has not happened. There has been no drug dealing since then,” he said.

The analysts cited the ban on the cultivation of poppy as a reason for the rise in its price.

“The best option is that the Taliban found a good alternative for the narcotics and paved the ground for engagement with the world,” said Rahmatullah Bizhanpor, a political analyst.

This comes as the deputy minister of Counter-Narcotics said that more 2,200 hectares of lands have been cleared of poppy plants.

Poppy Cultivation Increased 32% From Past Year: UNODC