Afghanistan: April 11, 2002


In a special program, foreign governments have provided the government will nearly a hundred million dollars to destroy poppy fields. The years first crop is about to be harvested. At first, the government offered farmers $1,000 per hectare. But farmers considered this inadequate. That amount covered the loans most farmers had to take out to plant the poppies, but left them with little profit. After at least 16 people died in armed clashes between farmers and government troops in the last few days, the government raised it's rate to $1,400 per hectare. Still not enough, considering that poppies generally provide at least five times the profit as wheat. But foreign governments are not willing to match the dope dealers in what they pay the farmers. The government has to have destroyed (not harvested)  poppy fields for American aircraft and space satellites to see if they are to receive money and they want to pay as little of it as possible to farmers.  If deals are not made with the farmers, then the government troops (currently just warlord militia loyal to the government) are simply going to war against the people in the poppy growing areas. The government faces another problem. During the war between the Taliban and Northern Alliance, each side had it's own poppy growing areas and loyal drug gangs that processed the poppies into opium and heroin and smuggled it into neighboring countries. The current operations against poppy growers has been in the south, in Pushtun territory. This gives the non-Pushtuns warlords a bonus, as less drugs available from the south means what is produced in the north can be sold for more money. This sort of thing does not make the Pushtuns happy.

Fighting between warlords continues. The governor of the southwestern Nimroz province has sent troops to fight two tribes that dispute control of roads into Iran. At least eight men have been killed in the fighting so far. 




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