Afghanistan: February 26, 2003


Opium production is again big business in Afghanistan. In 1999, 4.600 tons of opium was produced, 3,300 tons in 2000 and only 185 tons in 2001 (because of a Taliban ban and war with the US), but last year production was back up to 3,400 tons and is on the way to breaking records this year. While the central government is against opium production, regional warlords back it because they get a cut of the cash generated when the drugs are sold and smuggled out of the country. Trying to shut down the opium trade will cause a lot of fighting, because the poppies, that are used to produce the opium, bring in much more cash than wheat and require less effort and water to grow. 


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