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Taliban: The Biggest Producer of Opium

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Taliban: The Biggest Producer of Opium

90 % of world’s drugs are produced in Afghanistan which makes Afghanistan the largest producer of drugs. Domestically, it means 3 million people, 10% of the total population are addicted to drugs. And it means continued existence of terrorist organizations such as the Taliban and drugs mafia.    

Have you ever wondered what pushes the country to defend this disgraceful championship?

While reasons such as poverty, economic instability, and the astonishing unemployment rate are intuitive, the presence of Taliban and international drugs mafia is what peddles the worst aspects.

Did you know that of total drugs production in Afghanistan, two third comes from a province that endures the highest Taliban presence in it?

Taliban threaten Afghanistan and the world by providing a safe haven for transnational terrorists. But their role as the largest producers of opium is what sustains them. In areas where the Taliban have direct or indirect presence, production of opium is much higher compared to areas that are under control of Afghanistan government. Notably, more than two-third of heroin comes from Helmand province, where 5 out of 14 districts are under Taliban’s command.

International drugs trafficking is another significant factor contributing to drugs production in Afghanistan. The worldwide demand of drugs brings drug traffickers and Taliban’s together. Instability makes opium cultivation possible and in turn opium provides protection and pays for weapons and salaries of insurgents. Thus creating an environment where drug traffickers, insurgents and terrorist groups cooperate very profitably.

What has the Afghan government done to face this challenge?

In past 14 years, the ministry of counter narcotics of Afghanistan has carried out policy and public awareness measures. They offer alternative farming practices, subsidies and programs for appreciation of good performance. Religious scholars from pulpit of mosques, professors in universities, and human rights activist have actively aided these efforts. Results are clear. Drugs cultivation in more than 20 provinces has reached ceased. However, opium remains profitable for Taliban and drug traffickers. In the past year alone, 3000 government soldiers have been killed in Helmand in efforts to retake areas back from the Taliban.

Afghanistan is the world’s largest producer of opium, but Afghan people are never the beneficiaries. From a trade of around 67 billion dollars, only 1.2 billion goes to the farmers, 3 billion goes to the Taliban organization and over 60 billion to international drug mafias. 95% of the production is issued abroad through smuggling. Indicating that drug production is mainly a demand problem rather supply issue.

Drug production is not just Afghanistan’s problem, but a global one with global culpability. Collaborative solutions like helping combat the Taliban, identifying and arresting international traffickers, removal of destabilizing forces and treatment for addicts are parallel measures necessary to solve the crisis.



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