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UN Says Opium Poppy Growth Sends 'Alarm Signal'

Afghan farmers work in a poppy field in Jalalabad province. (file photo)
The United Nations says the increase in this year's opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan sends a "serious alarm signal."

In its annual survey released on November 20, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said the area under cultivation has increased by 18 percent despite tough government eradication efforts.

Yury Fedotov, the executive director of UNODC, says high opium prices have led to the increase.

He called for "a sustained effort by the Afghan government and international stakeholders to address illicit cultivation with a balanced approach between development and law enforcement measures."

Despite the increased area of cultivation, the UNODC says estimated opium production in the country actually fell 36 percent because of a blight on the crop and bad weather.

Afghanistan produces about 90 percent of the world's opium.

With reporting by AFP
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