Growing poppy remains one of the few reliable sources of income for poor Afghan farmers. (Photo: US Navy/Petty Officer 1st Class Monica R. Nelson)
After 31 years of violence in Afghanistan, the opium poppy crop remains one of the few reliable sources of income for poor Afghan farmers. It is unrealistic to expect them to give up poppy cultivation without providing them an alternate way of generating enough income.
In the past, Afghan farmers have generally complied with the numerous government efforts to ban poppy production. There has been a tacit understanding among farmers, however, that the government would provide substantial support to help the transition away from poppy production. Yet, promises of support have not been kept, prompting a rapid rise in poppy cultivation.
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M. Ashraf Haidari is a longtime observer and analyst of international efforts to eliminate drugs in Afghanistan; he works with the Embassy of Afghanistan in Washington, DC.
Afghanistan: Aid to Farmers and International Cooperation Key to Narcotics Elimination