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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

(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.

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“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.
(Read more opium stories.)

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