It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.
Please white-list or disable AboveTopSecret.com in your ad-blocking tool.
Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.
Faltering British efforts to tackle Afghanistan's poppy crop have found an unlikely ally – in the weather.
Freak weather linked to global warming is expected to reduce parts of the country's opium harvest drastically. Scientists believe freezing winter temperatures followed by late rains and a possible drought may cut this year's yields, with some farmers losing half of their crop.
The fierce winter cold – which claimed hundreds of lives across Afghanistan – is thought to have stopped millions of poppy seeds from germinating. Late rains have then stunted many of the plants that survived.
One expert said: "It was too cold in some areas for the seeds to come alive. Between 30 per cent and 50 per cent of the seeds may not have germinated."
Last year, Afghanistan produced a record 93 per cent of the world's poppy harvest. The industry is worth at least £2bn, almost half of Afghanistan's GDP.
Afghanistan's minister of agriculture, Obaidullah Ramin, blamed global warming. Small changes in global temperatures tip weather cycles to extremes of hot and cold, he said. "One hundred per cent this is a result of climate change and global warming. The climate is changing all over the world, but it has more impact here because we have less control over nature," he added.
"Afghanistan is a very dry part of the world. Small changes in temperature are exacerbated."
The best poppy-growing land, in Helmand, is fed by irrigation canals from the Helmand River. But many of the country's canals were destroyed during decades of fighting. In poorer areas farmers grow poppies on rain-fed land, which is beyond the reach of rivers and not good enough to sustain food crops.
The drop in poppy yields is unlikely to affect heroin supply on Britain's streets. Experts estimate there is at least seven years' supply in transit from the fields to the users, while some farmers have stockpiled their own opium because of a drop in farm-gate prices.