Saturday, September 10, 2005

Opium Up, Bush Down

I seem to recall one mighty shrub telling Americans that one positive result of the US incursion into Afghanistan would be a severe reduction in the amount of opium produced. The cerebral W had a grand plan to teach Afghan's how to produce other types of cash crops that wouldn't lend themselves to be developed into illicit drugs like heroin.

Like so many of the [p]Resident's grand schemes, this one doesn't seem to be working out so well. According to the United Nation's "Afghanistan Opium Survey 2004",
...the country will have produced an astonishing 87% of the planet’s entire opium crop this year, up from 76% in 2003. Total opium production soared to 4,200 metric tons in 2004, surpassing the previous year’s record breaking 3,600 metric tons.

Afghanistan’s opium boom is wide as well as deep. Commercial growing expanded to all 32 provinces of Afghanistan in 2004, an increase from 28 provinces the year before. Under the Taliban, opium growing was concentrated in the predominantly ethnic Pashtun provinces of southern and southeastern Afghanistan. Now farmers in the northern provinces where ethnic Tajiks and Uzbeks are the majorities are also raising the cash crop that earns 12 times the income per hectare of wheat. What’s driving this switch to opium is obvious. The return on investment is high and enforcement of laws against opium growing is effectively non-existent. Some 356,000 Afghani farm households, or roughly 10% of the population, depend on the crop that now accounts for the equivalent of 60% of the country’s entire Gross Domestic Product.
Hmm. Sixty percent of their GDP?

Another smashing success for Team Bush!

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