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Home >>  Culture & Conflict Studies  >>  Poppy Cultivation in Afghanistan
Poppy Cultivation in Afghanistan

The Program for Culture & Conflict Studies provides a central hub for analysts to understand the provincial impact of poppy cultivation in Afghanistan. Our current focus is on Eastern and Southern Afghanistan, areas most affected by the influence of opium. The following pages provide overall summaries of regions in Afghanistan, as well as drop-down links with greater detail on individual provinces within Afghanistan.

Opium Trends and Reports from Afghanistan 2009
In August 2009, the UNODC reported a 22% nationwide decrease in poppy cultivation but only a 10% decrease in opium production due to enhanced farming techniques which resulted in higher yields of opium being produced (56kg/hectare).The number of "poppy-free" provinces has increased from 18 to 20 according to the same report. Additionally, the UN has revised its estimation of the Taliban's financial gain from the drug industry, claiming the Taliban acquired $450-600 million from taxing the industry over the past four years. More bad news regarding Afghanistan's narcotics conundrum is the steady rise in cannabis cultivation, the plant needed for hashish production, of which Afghanistan is the world's number two producer of (see Afghanistan’s Other Narcotics Nightmare article below). The UNODC is expected to release their first Afghan Cannabis Survey in late 2009.

New reports regarding the Afghan Opium industry have been released throughout 2009 and are available here for download:

CCS Narcotics Glossary of Terms (PDF) (New)

UNODC Opium survey 2009 (PDF)

UNODC Addiction, Crime and Insurgency: the Transnational Threat of Afghan Opium (PDF)

UNODC Laboratory Bulletin 2009 (PDF)

UNODC Laboratory Bulletin 2008 (PDF)

Afghanistan's Other Narcotics Nightmare, World Politics Review, October 1, 2009

Opium Trends in Afghanistan 2008
Opium cultivation remains a serious concern for Afghanistan, particularly in the south where 98% of the overall poppy output is confined to seven provinces; Helmand, Kandahar, Farah, Uruzgan, Nimroz, Dai Kundi, and Zabul. The refinement and processing of opium into morphine and heroin continues to be conducted in-country. The UN estimates two-thirds of all opiates leaving the country have been refined into either morphine base or crude forms of heroin. Additionally, criminal networks and insurgents continue to merge in southern Afghanistan, sharing profits, tactics and anti-government ideology.. Suicide attacks against eradication personnel have surged in 2008 and have continured in early 2009. (Read on...)

Senior Drug Trafficker Arrested 2008
In late October 2008, authorities in Jakarta, Indonesia apprehended Afghan drug kingpin Haji Juma Khan, an ethnic Balouch who ruled the Baramcha heroin distribution center since 2001. Khan, who ran one of the largest opium/heroin trafficking organizations in Afghanistan, could trade morphine base in quantities as large as 40 tons or refined heroin in quantities as large as 100 kilograms. Khan represents the most senior Afghan drug trafficker ever arrested. Khan has been extradited to the United States and is charged with several counts of narco-terrorism. He currently awaits trial in New York and faces a sentence of 20 years to life. Click here to read Khan's unsealed indictement (PDF).

Opium Trends in Eastern Afghanistan (2007)
Opium cultivation and production is an epidemic in Afghanistan. Since the fall of the Taliban in late 2002, opium production has steadily risen from near nothing to capture over 90% (93% according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime) of the world’s opiate trade. This affects rural farmers, government ministers, and everyone in-between. By some estimates opium revenues, all unofficial, illegal, and untaxed, account for half of the Afghan gross national product. At the cultivation level alone the revenues exceed one billion dollars, before the transport, refining, and export are tallied
. (Read On...)

Opium Trends in Southern Afghanistan (2007)
Opium production in Southern Afghanistan has risen rapidly, mostly in Helmand, Kandahar, and Nimroz. In those three provinces alone, production has increased by over 36,198 hectares (an area approximately as large as the Gaza Strip, or Manhattan, the Bronx, and Brooklyn together), an increase greater than the entire production of Eastern Afghanistan. In fact, Southern Afghanistan accounts for approximately two-thirds of the globe’s opium. (Read on...)

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