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Afghanistan Drug Control - Purchase

CSIS recommended in 2007 to "Shift the antidrug effort from eradication to a combination of purchase, alternative crops, and interdiction, with a particular emphasis on the highgrowth provinces of Kandahar and Helmand.... Dramatic changes are needed to reverse the expensive and ineffective direction of current antidrug policy. A shift in emphasis from eradication to interdiction, bonus programs, and direct purchase would shake up the market and the traffickers in 2007. Targeting Helmand and Kandahar, where 50 percent of Afghanistan's poppy grows, will increase public safety.... Move the bulk of the $500 million to be spent on eradication in 2007 to alternative solutions for Helmand and Kandahar, including purchasing poppy crops at farm gate value for a total of $375 million. Some of the remaining $125 million should go to credit schemes and to enhance substitute livelihood programs and interdiction."

On 15 October 2005 the Interior Ministry announced closure of activities of the French NGO Senlis Council in Afghanistan. Deputy minister Lt Gen Daud Daud told a news conference the decision regarding the fate of the Senlis Council was made some five days before. He said: "In an order, Interior Minister has banned activities of Senlis Council." The council has been working in this war-battered country since two years to legalise poppy crop in this central Asian country. It suggested the poppy crops might be used in painkillers.

The position of the UK Government is that "We don't support legalising/licensing Afghan opium cultivation or buying the crop for lots of different reasons. Legal opium would be diverted to the black market. Illegal diversion of the crop could only be minimised if the Afghans had funding, government capacity and strong policing in place to ensure that they were the only people able to buy the opium.

"The Afghan government does not have this capacity and is not able to introduce and administer a successful crop buy-out campaign. It would create a second market rather than a replacement market. Demand for illegal opiates would not disappear even if Afghan opium were purchased for legal purposes or destruction. Traffickers would continue to exploit the Afghan farmers to meet the demand for illegal opiates, simply moving poppy cultivation into other areas of Afghanistan. Only 4% of agricultural land in Afghanistan is currently cultivated with opium poppy; there is enormous scope for expansion.

"Non-poppy growers would abandon licit crops to meet the demand for illicit opiates - ultimately increasing rather than decreasing the amount of land under opium poppy cultivation. Prices would increase due to market competition, tempting more farmers than ever to cultivate poppy. The Afghan government does not have the institutional strength to be the sole purchaser of the crop, and would therefore be in direct competition with the traffickers. This would drive up the price of opium and attract more farmers to cultivate poppy." [ FCO ]

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Page last modified: 10-12-2015 19:39:52 ZULU