Ted Obvious reports from Kabul: Great news comes from the poppy fields of Afghanistan where a record bumper crop has been gathered this year, the largest since 2001 when America had led the effort to liberate the country form the tyranny of the Taliban. And if in 2001 Afghanistan supplied a miserly 10 per cent of the world’s opium it is now providing over 90 per cent of the great stuff, some even say 95 per cent. But we’d better stick with the figure 90. It’s a good solid figure, you know, and it reflects NATO troops’ efforts to safeguard the poppy harvest every year, losing thousands of lives along the way.
But here are more figures that should cheer anyone who likes to shoot heroin up his or her arm or even smoke it. Not to mention those groups that want it to be legalised as soon as possible. This year the poppy crops shot up by 36 per cent and for the first time ever passed the mark of 6,000 tonnes. The biggest increase came in Helmand, the province where US and British troops have been doing their utmost to provide protection for the farmers toiling on their poppy fields for days and weeks and months, making a very healthy profit to feed their families and their drug addictions.
The good news is that poppy harvests are expected to grow even further next year, as the Afghan national army and the police will take over the safekeeping of the fields and, what is even more important, will be provided with sufficient funds to keep the whole operation growing.
Even more encouraging for heroin users and people who are planning to become ones in the near future is the news that poppy fields have nearly doubled in their size this year, now occupying something like 516,000 acres of land, up from 380,000 acres last year. If that is not impressive growth, then I don’t know what is.
Some happy poppy farmers are saying that America and Britain are now their biggest friends, because without their help they would not have been able to improve their opium production. America has invested something like $500 billion into the war effort and we can safely assume that half of it at least was spent on helping the drugs trade flourish in liberated Afghanistan. Britain was more modest, investing $30 billion, but is still seen as a major contributor to the spread of poppy farming in the nation.
As lobby groups in the West are growing in confidence that hard drugs and heroin included will soon be legalised in many countries, the feeling is that more people would be able to enjoy high quality heroin from Afghanistan, compliments of NATO and the Afghan army that the alliance had trained to protect the poppy farmers.