Poppy cultivation in Afghanistan has almost reached zero, according to a statement by the Taliban administration, which hailed a recent report by a U.K.-based organization, which acknowledged their efforts to eradicate it.
Hafiz Zia Ahmad, the deputy spokesman at Afghan Foreign Ministry, credited the Taliban supreme leader, Mullah Haibatullah, for the decrease in poppy cultivation after he issued a decree banning poppy cultivation in April last year.
“Following the IEA (Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan) Supreme Leader’s decree, poppy cultivation has been reduced to zero. According to recent media reports, 56.2% of land in Helmand province was poppy cultivated in 2020. In contrast, it has reduced to 0.4% by 2023; in reality, it is much lesser,” Hafiz Zia Ahmad tweeted.
His statement came after Alcis, an organization that provides geographical information services, on Tuesday, its report said the poppy cultivation reduced in the war-torn country by 80% compared to 2022.
“Yet the reality is, an effective ban on poppy cultivation has been imposed in Afghanistan in 2023, and opium production will be negligible compared to 2022,” said illicit drugs expert David Mansfield in a report citing satellite imagery.
Mansfield added that the high-resolution imagery shows that in the Helmand province, poppy cultivation has fallen from more than 120,000 hectares (296,526 acres) in 2022 to less than 1,000 hectares (2,471 acres) in 2023-a reduction in this one province alone that surpasses any prior national poppy ban in Afghanistan, even the Taliban prohibition of 2000-2001.
The report praised the Taliban’s efforts against poppy cultivation. However, it warned that cultivation persists in some parts of the northeast, such as Badakhshan, which can increase.
The U.S. calls it a necessary move
In a rare acknowledgment of the Taliban’s policies, the U.S. Afghanistan point man, Thomas West, said: “Reports that the Taliban have implemented policies to decrease opium poppy production this year significantly are credible and important. Every country in the region and beyond has a shared interest in an Afghanistan free of drugs.”
However, local farmers in Helmand and Nangarhar provinces, the major poppy crops area, said the Taliban had destroyed their crops without providing any compensation.
“Poppy was a major source of our income that the Taliban have completely banned,” Abdul Wahid Afkari, a local farmer in Helmand, told Anadolu over the phone.
He complained that the Taliban did not compensate or support local farmers.
“We request the Taliban government and international community to help us as we have no other income source in this backward area,” Afkari said.
-‘Now world’s turn to help our people’
Afghan Taliban deputy spokesperson Bilal Karimi admitted that no major development projects could be launched in the areas as the country is currently passing through an economic crisis.
“We fulfilled our promise to the world and now it is their return to support us in providing alternative employment to local people,” Karimi told Anadolu.
Karimi also praised Alcis’ report and said: “The world has now acknowledged our efforts in bringing peace and freeing our country from drugs.
“We have secured the world and now they should come forward, fulfill their promises and help our people.”
Source : Daily Sabah