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No More Opium, No More Money for Afghan Villagers

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posted on Aug, 2 2009 @ 08:32 PM

SHAHRAN, Afghanistan — For as long as anyone can remember, there was no need for paper money in this remote corner of the Hindu Kush. The common currency was what grew in everyone's backyard — opium.

When children felt like buying candy, they ran into their father's fields and returned with a few grams of opium folded inside a leaf. Their mothers collected it in plastic bags, trading 18 grams for a meter of fabric or two liters of cooking oil. Even a visit to the barbershop could be settled in opium.

But the economy of this village sputtered to a halt last year when the government began aggressively enforcing a ban on opium production. Villagers were not allowed to plant their only cash crop. Now shops are empty and farmers are in debt, as entire communities spiral into poverty.

Opium is one of the biggest problems facing this troubled country, because it is deeply woven into the fabric of daily life as well as into the economics of insurgency. Afghanistan supplies 93 percent of the world's opium, and it is one of the main sources of funding for the growing Taliban movement.

Yet the government ban on opium is working at best unevenly. In areas of the country under Taliban control, opium production is going strong. In government-held areas like Shahran, it has gone down drastically, but at the cost of the livelihood of hundreds of thousands of people. Their anger is imperiling government support in one of the few areas of the country that has resisted the Taliban's advance.


Two years ago, opium, the raw ingredient used to make heroin, grew on nearly half a million acres in Afghanistan. The harvest was worth about $4 billion, or equal to nearly half the country's GDP in 2007. As much as a tenth — almost half a billion dollars — went to local strongmen, including the Taliban, according to the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime.

Under intense international pressure, the government redoubled its effort to crack down on opium farmers. By last year, the number of acres planted with poppy had dropped by a fifth, yet the Taliban's finances remained largely untouched. Ninety-eight percent of Afghanistan's opium is now grown in just seven of the country's 34 provinces — all areas under partial or total Taliban control.

Opium was so entrenched in Badakshan province, where Shahran is located, that it is said Marco Polo sampled it when he passed through in the 13th century. Until recently, the sloping mountain faces were awash with pink, purple and magenta poppies, nodding in the wind. But in the past year, poppy production has gone down 95 percent.


I feel sorry for these Afghan villagers, but drugs are bad no matter what. I hope they find a new crop to replace these.

posted on Aug, 2 2009 @ 08:35 PM
The CIA doesn't like competition so they get the goverment to shut down un official producers

posted on Aug, 2 2009 @ 08:47 PM
reply to post by gatorboi117

I dont know if there is any legal culture that replace opium- concerning benefits...
Grapes...not so bad idea- if they start to make wine, they will need to relax a bit their religious extremism because how otherwise you can make a good wine without trying it??
Another option- potatoes. Support colder climate, nourishing and you can also make strong alcohol out of them. "taliban vodka- the taste of freedom!"

[edit on 2-8-2009 by ZenOnKwalsky]

posted on Aug, 2 2009 @ 08:51 PM
The "black" government funds itself by running drugs.

The VAST majority of the worlds Heroin supply comes from Afghanistan.

In 2001, shortly before September 11th, the Taliban banned growing opium saying it was only benefiting those outside their country.

Here is a May 20th 2001 NY Times article about how the Taliban is halting heroin production.

What's the first thing the Americans did in Afganistan?

Repeal the ban on growing poppies.

What's the first thing Americans did in Iraq?

Started selling their oil for dollars again, Iraq was the first and only country to ever sell their oil for Euros... Didn't last long.

[edit on 2-8-2009 by breakingdradles]

posted on Aug, 2 2009 @ 11:35 PM
They don't grow opium, they grow poppies.
They can't just send the kids out back to get some opium. It doesn't work that way. There is a bit of processing required to derive opium from the poppy plant. There is a lot more to derive Heroin from the Opium.

I am not a drug expert by any means, but my guess is Opium has been a relatively benign product of Afghan agriculture for millenia.

Heroin, is a western scourge. Heroin is what is evil; not the Afghanis trying to survive in an otherwise tough place to make a living.

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