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UK to pay to halt opium crop in Afghanistan

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By James Kirkup, Political Correspondent
The Telegraph (UK) / December 12, 2007

Britain will pay Afghan farmers to stop growing the opium poppies that are used to make heroin, Gordon Brown is to say.

Plans to give poppy growers a financial incentive to produce alternative crops will be a key part of the long-term Afghan strategy the Prime Minister will present to Parliament this afternoon.

Attempts to eradicate the growing Afghan drug trade form a cornerstone of Mr Brown’s attempts to clarify the objective of a military and diplomatic mission that could see thousands of British troops deployed for a decade or more.

Paddy Ashdown, the former Liberal Democrat leader, is also being lined up by Britain as a new international envoy to oversee a renewed attempt to strengthen the country’s central government and economy.

British sources admit the new strategy depends on weaning Afghanistan off opium.

Despite repeated promises to combat the heroin trade, Afghan poppy cultivation has been increasing since international forces toppled the Taliban government in 2001.

Earlier this year, the United Nations said Afghan heroin production had risen to a record level, and the country accounts for 92 per cent of opium production.

Heavily-armed, well-funded drug gangs have put large swathes of the country beyond the control of President Hamid Karzai, whom Mr Brown met in Kabul on Monday.

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Written by afghandevnews

December 15, 2007 at 4:31 pm

Posted in Agriculture, Drugs

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