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US unveils new plan to fight drugs in Afghanistan

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Thu Aug 9, 9:22 PM ET

WASHINGTON (AFP) – A new US anti-drug plan for Afghanistan, supplier of the lion’s share of the world’s heroin, features larger carrots and bigger sticks to discourage poppy production, US officials said Thursday.

“What we’re trying to do here is, dramatically increase the incentives for being poppy-free or reducing poppy production,” from which opium latex is collected, said acting Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Secretary of State for Thomas Schweich.

Afghanistan produces more than 90 percent of the world’s heroin, according to the US State Department.

“At the same time we’re trying to consolidate those gains with great new incentives, we also are looking forward to substantially harsher disincentives for those areas and those parts of the country where we’ve seen poppy production increasing,” he told reporters.

The Taliban kept a lid on poppy plantations, but since a US-led invasion toppled the Islamist government, opium production has exploded and Afghanistan has pushed other producers out of the world market for heroin.

While the United States wants Afghan farms to plant alternative crops, “There is no miracle crop. There is nothing that will equal the income you can get from poppy,” Schweich said.

A State Department narcotics publication shows 74,000 hectares (183,000 acres) planted with poppies in Afghanistan in 2002, which shot up to 166,000 hectares (410,000 acres) last year, up from 104,000 hectares (257,000 acres) in 2005.

“We are helping the Afghan nation implement its strategy here,” US drug czar John Walters said.

“In the areas — particularly where there is less-secure control — the poppy cultivation has grown dramatically.

“It became a part of the instability and support for terror. It is the economic development program of the terrorists and the criminals,” said the head of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

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Written by afghandevnews

August 9, 2007 at 4:55 pm

Posted in Drugs

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