Afghanistan: Taliban bans opium harvest from poppy in drugs clampdown

Afghanistan: Taliban bans opium harvest from poppy in drugs clampdown

by Pranali Mehta

The Taliban in Afghanistan has reportedly announced an official ban on the cultivation of drugs in the country. The move comes at a time when farmers across the nation are preparing to harvest their poppy crop for opium, which is used in making of heroin.

As per reports, the order warns those who choose to proceed with the harvest and threatens them with jail-time and the burning of their crops.

Under the Taliban’s previous rule during the late 1990s, a similar religion-driven movement had taken place which outlawed poppy cultivation. The previous ban was implemented across the country within a period of two years, with the UN verifying that production was completely halted across most of Afghanistan.

After they were overthrown in 2001, farmers in several parts of the country returned to poppy cultivation over the Taliban-recommended wheat, which under the militant group’s last years of rule were rotting in fields as farmers were unable to bring them to market due to the lack of roads and necessary infrastructure.

Afghanistan is currently the world’s largest producer of opium, with poppies being the main source of income for millions of farmers and day laborers in the country who are able to earn upwards of $300 monthly from harvesting and extracting opium.

Prior to the Taliban’s takeover, the country was producing over 6,000 tons of opium and can potentially yield over 320 tons of pure heroin, as per a report by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime.

The recent ban however, will only further weaken Afghanistan’s poorest citizens, as the country faces a humanitarian crisis with 95% of citizens not having enough to eat.

According to a 2021 UN report, Afghanistan earned somewhere between $1.8 to $2.7 billion from opiates, contributing to over 7% of the country’s GDP.

The ban is expected to hit small farmers, who relied on opium production for survival, much harder as they use poppy production and income as a form of banking for buying staples like cooking oil, flour, and sugar. 

The order has also banned trade, transportation, import, and export of all types of narcotics including alcohol, as well as drug manufacturing plants in the country.

During their last rule, the Taliban had employed mosque clerics and village elders to enforce the ban in their area. If a village ignored the orders, elders and clerics would also be arrested along with offending farmers.

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Pranali Mehta

A chemical engineer by qualification, Pranali Mehta dutifully walked down the slated path and worked in a chemical firm for a year. Her passion for writing however, pushed her into experimenting with the same as a career. With over three years of experience in content writ Read more...