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Afghanistan's Karzai 'Disappointed' With Opium Increase --> The Afghan government has been urging farmers to cultivate ordinary agricultural crops such as, as in this instance, onions. (epa) September 2, 2006 -- Afghan President Hamid Karzai said he was "disappointed" with the increase in opium production the UN announced in a report on September 2.

Karzai said "regrettably, over the last year, our efforts to fight narcotics have proved inadequate."

The 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.

UNODOC chief Antonio Maria Costa presented the report to Karzai in person on September 2. Costa called the report "very alarming" and said Afghanistan is "increasingly hooked on its own drug."

Costa said southern Afghanistan is showing the symptoms of collapse, with widescale drug cultivation and trafficking, insurgency and terrorism, crime, and corruption.

Shortly before the report was released, a senior U.S. counternarcotics official warned that the illicit trade in opium and heroin threatens to destroy Afghanistan's fledgling democracy.

Doug Wankel, director of the U.S. counternarcotics task force in Afghanistan, said on September 2 that the country could be "taken down" by its drugs problem and evolve from its current narco-economy into a narco-state.


Opium In Afghanistan
An antidrug billboard in Kabul shows a skeleton hanging from an opium bulb (AFP)

OPIUM FARMING ON THE RISE Despite a nationwide program by the Afghan government to eradicate opium-poppy fields and offer farmers alternative crops, international experts say that the 2006 opium crop will be as much as 40 percent larger than the previous year's. Afghanistan is the largest producer of opium in the world, and the source of as much as 90 percent of Europe's heroin.(more)


Narcotics Supply Reduced, But Afghanistan Still Suffering

Saffron Could Help Wean Farmers Off Opium Poppies

Poppy-Eradication Drive Launched In Western Province

Insurgency Gains Ground As Poppy-Eradication Efforts Struggle

UN Drug Agency Promotes 'Alternative Development' For Curbing Poppy Cultivation


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