Afghan Opium Production on the Rise

Opium poppy cultivation increased for the second year in a row in 2011, despite the hundreds of millions of dollars spent by Afghan and Western officials to rid the country of what was once its biggest cash crop. The United Nations drug-control agency said that insecurity and rising worldwide opium prices were the driving factors behind Afghanistan’s 7 percent increase in the amount of poppy cultivation—and there was even increase in areas once declared poppy-free. The poppy-cultivation expansion was throughout Afghanistan, even as government eradication efforts rose 65 percent over the past year. In one bright spot, Afghan counternarcotics officials said they reduced poppy cultivation in Helmand province, once the center of Afghanistan’s poppy fields.