X
X

As Afghan Opium Blight Spreads, Farmers' Lives Wilt

A Eurasianet partner post from RFE/RL

LASHKAR GAH -- Aziz Ahmad is a deeply worried man. With two wives and seven children at home, the 30-year-old farmer depends entirely on his opium-poppy crop to make a living.

This year, it's proving to be an increasingly difficult task. First, falling water tables stunted his crop. Then a mysterious blight emerged to destroy most of what remained.

In a normal growing season, Ahmad's 4-hectare plot in the Washer district of Afghanistan's southern Helmand Province yields 100 kilograms of opium -- enough to cover his debts and ensure his family's survival over the winter.

This year he managed to bring in a mere 25 kilograms, barely enough to keep food on the table and pay the laborers who harvest his crop and transform it into opium gum, the substance on which the lucrative global heroin trade depends.

Ahmad managed to bring in just a quarter of his usual crop. Afghanistan produces nearly 90 percent of the world's illicit opium production, harvesting 6,900 tons of opium last year. That means steady income for farmers like Ahmad -- and for the Taliban, which come calling every year to collect tax from poppy growers.

To read the full story

Written by RFE/RL correspondent in Prague Abubakar Siddique; contributions from RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan correspondent Mohammad Aliyas Daee from Lashkar Gah

A Eurasianet partner post from RFE/RL

As Afghan Opium Blight Spreads, Farmers' Lives Wilt

1 / 1
X
> <