Afghans Hard-Pressed to Hold Gains in War on Opium

Corruption, other obstacles make cultivation of legitimate crops tough to maintain
By Rebecca Smith Hurd,  Newser User
Posted Nov 9, 2008 8:58 AM CST
In this 2007 file photo, an Afghan boy collects resin from poppies in an opium poppy field in the Khogyani district of the Nangarhar province, east of Kabul, Afghanistan.    (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Afghanistan’s second-largest opium-producing province has eradicated the drug, a remarkable feat but one that farmers fear is short-lived, the Christian Science Monitor reports. NATO-backed efforts in the country that makes 90% of Earth's opium have reduced poppy harvests, violence, and corruption nationwide. But to grow anything else, the region needs water, and locals doubt the government will deliver on promises to build dams.

“If that doesn't happen, our people will again grow poppy,” a tribal elder says. A Kabul think tank agrees: “Dramatic reductions in opium poppy cultivation are difficult to sustain because of their powerful negative impact on the welfare of households.” Recent droughts and difficulty navigating Taliban-controlled areas to get legal crops to market further complicate the issue.