Poppy Eradication in Afghanistan: Why Isn't It Working?
MARINE CORPS COMBAT DEVELOPMENT COMMAND QUANTICO VA
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Poppy eradication in Afghanistan is not working. Despite the millions of dollars spent annually by the United States government, non-government agencies, and a variety of international partners, Afghanistan continues to be the global leader in the production of this illicit crop. Decades of war and political instability are making any attempts at eradication of the opium poppy in Afghanistan virtually meaningless. This landlocked and mountainous country, which has experienced years of drought, possesses limited ability to successfully produce most cash crops. Corruption and a lack of infrastructure make exportation difficult for replacement crops such as wheat or saffron, which can grow in this arid environment. Farmers drowning in debt are forced to plant poppy just to survive. The southwest, which contains the greatest concentration of poppy plants, is controlled by the Taliban. This violent terrorist group is utilizing funds from the sale of opium to support their reign of terror. Recognizing that our supply-side focus in the war on heroin is a failure, a partial change to the demand-side must be examined. Dissemination of information through education would be much less expensive and could prove beneficial. Embarking on a program to utilize Afghan poppy for the licit production of morphine for world wide consumption would aid the country in several ways First, by improving the economic conditions of the people of Afghanistan second, by engaging the tribal leaders at the local level to coordinate this program and, finally, by helping to alleviate the worlds growing demand for morphine-based pain medicines.