The Rise of Opium-poppy Cultivation in Afghanistan

Afghanistan poppy cultivation is estimated to have hit an all-time high despite the international counter-narcotics efforts. The US has spent an estimated USD $7.5bn in an attempt to curb the phenomenon. At present, opium-poppy is being cultivated on 209,000 hectares (516,230 acres) of land in Afghanistan, indicating a 36% increase from 2012.

A report released by the US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction has established that the resources expended on counter-narcotics efforts in the country since 2002 have not yielded expected results. This follows a report released by the UK House of Commons, which found that ‘the counter-narcotics strategy of the UK Government in Afghanistan has failed’.

While this may be the case, the withdrawal of international support is not the solution. The Royal United Services Institute has already pointed out that ‘continued support to Afghan institutions including the Counter Narcotics Police of Afghanistan, Task Force 333, and other interagency centres must remain a priority’.

Any solution pursued must include the support of the Afghan government and focus on disrupting the drug supply chain with the help of neighboring countries, while taking into consideration the small percentage of the population devoted to opium poppy cultivation.