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An Afghan woman, passes through poppy fields near Jalalabad (epa)
September 2, 2006 -- The UN says poppy cultivation in Afghanistan will soar to record levels this year.
A new report by the Vienna-based UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODOC) predicts poppy cultivation will jump 59 percent in 2006, with an expected harvest of some 6,000 tons of opium. That amounts to 92 percent of the world's supply.
Much of the rise has occurred in southern provinces hit by a growing Taliban insurgency.
UNODOC chief Antonio Maria Costa presented the report to Afghan President Hamid Karzai today in the capital, Kabul. Costa called the report "very alarming" and said Afghanistan is "increasingly hooked on its own drug."
He said southern Afghanistan is showing the symptoms of collapse, with widescale drug cultivation and trafficking, insurgency and terrorism, crime, and corruption.
The report finds that only six Afghan provinces are now opium-free. Poppy growing has declined in eight other provinces, mainly in the north.
(compiled from agency reports)