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America to assist opium-free provinces in Afghanistan

in Afghan Business

America to assist opium-free provinces in Afghanistan

opium cultivationAmerica has pledged USD 1mn in aid to opium-free provinces of Afghanistan.

A memorandum of understanding in this regard was signed on Tuesday between the American Embassy and the Afghan Ministry of Counter-Narcotics.

According to latest figures, more than 17 provinces of Afghanistan have shown significant progress in the fight against opium cultivation.

Balkh, Bamiyan, Ghazni, Faryab, Jawzjan, Khost, Paktiya, Paktika, Parwan, Panjshir, Takhar, Wardak, Sar-e-Pul, Takhar, Nooristan, Logar, Samangan and Kunduz would be the recipients of the aid money.

Counter Narcotics Minister Ahmad Muqbil said poppy eradication program is underway in 33 provinces of Afghanistan.

According to him, opium cultivation in Baghlan and Badakhshan has been completely eradicated, while in Kabul and Kandahar, it has been reduced considerably.

He added the government has allocated USD 150,000 to Kandahar and USD 78,000 to Kabul.

Minister Muqbil said the American government would spend the aid money on construction projects, road building, establishment of schools and provision of aid to farmers.

The Ministry announced that more than 15,000 hectares of opium would be eradicated soon.

Some experts have acknowledged the efforts of the Ministry towards purging narcotics.

Stephen J. McFarland, Director of Rule of Law and Law Enforcement at the U.S. Embassy, said drug business and corruption have increased in the country.

He added 9,600 hectares of opium fields have been cleared across Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, Minister Muqbil said that poppy cultivation in insecure provinces of Afghanistan, including Helmand, Farah, Uruzgan and Kandahar, has surged.

According to Minister Muqbil, 240 tons of drugs are smuggled from these provinces annually.

“The issue of drug in Afghanistan is a regional issue. Afghanistan alone cannot tackle this issue,” said Minister Muqbil.

In the meantime, civil society activists have warned about the widespread drug smuggling from Afghanistan.

They believe the government has not been able to achieve much in their fight against poppy cultivation, despite the influx of billions of dollars.

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  1. Mehdi Barghchi PhD
    Mehdi Barghchi PhD 15 February, 2013, 11:03

    Poppy plantation for Opium production is not only a major problem in Afghanistan; it is a problem for the region and to a large extent for Europe too. Climate is suitable for poppy production in Afghanistan and farmers have been planting poppy as there is a market for it. However farmers do not get much financial benefit and the main profits are made further up the chain. To stop poppy plantation and opium production, the farmers need to have an alternative crop.

    Saffron is a good candidate to help production of high value agricultural product for Afghanistan as the climate is ideal and Saffron is the most highly valued agricultural product in the world. Saffron production will be a valuable crop for Afghanistan as it demands high labour input which will help employment situation in the countryside. However, as saffron will provide higher income than Poppy production, it will compete with poppy production and due to local circumstances security for saffron producers may be an issue.

    At the time that Afghanistan’s economy need a lot of support, it would make sense to offer an alternative to poppy production which will help the farmers and the economy therefore supporting saffron production will be a good strategic plan. Traditionally there has been some saffron production in Afghanistan but here has been massive improvement in breeding and production of saffron corms (starting material to grow saffron) which are used for plantation such as production of virus free saffron corms as starting material. If the production of this valuable crop is to be promoted in the region, it would make sense to benefit from advancements of science and technology rather than simply copy the old ways and methods which are inferior. For example, each plant of saffron will produce one or two plant (corms) for the following year and if it is diseased (virus infection is very common), the yield in the following year will be reduced in quality and quantity. We have the technology to produce thousands of new superior and improved plants from one plant in a few months (virus-free / disease free and genetically improved through micro-propagation and tissue culture). So it would be good to have a strategic plan to establish a healthy and valuable agricultural crop production for Afghanistan and use the aid finance to enable the farmers to establish a viable agricultural production right from the beginning. We can help and train Afghans to do this.

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  2. Prof.Hamidullah Adina
    Prof.Hamidullah Adina 16 February, 2013, 18:07

    Dear Sir,
    It was a good news for me,because during 3 decade war in Afghanistan we lost a lot of our economy infrastructures,like agriculture system .It is a good idea to change the plantation of saffron instate of poppy and opium .Of course in this case we need an strategic plan, by your helping. It is my pleasure to share my knowledge with you and learn more from you.

    Reply this comment
  3. Prof.Hamidullah Adina
    Prof.Hamidullah Adina 16 February, 2013, 18:21

    Dear sir,
    Thanks a lot for your idea about this big problem in Afghanistan .I am ready to work with you in this field, for become an Afghanistan without plantation of poppy and opium.

    Reply this comment
  4. Prof.Hamidullah Adina
    Prof.Hamidullah Adina 16 February, 2013, 18:32

    Dear Sir,
    It will take along time to performance this program,because in Afghanistan we have the security problem.

    Reply this comment
    • Dear Professor Hamidullah
      Dear Professor Hamidullah 20 February, 2013, 15:59

      I am pleased to see your response. I would be interested to explore the possibility of helping such a programme in Afghanistan. I would be able to help and support as a scientist and in planning, implementation, and training of such a programme. Please let me know how I can help.

      Reply this comment
  5. Mehdi Barghchi PhD
    Mehdi Barghchi PhD 20 February, 2013, 16:05

    Dear Professor HamidullahFebruary 20, 2013 at 3:59 pm # .I am pleased to see your response. I would be interested to explore the possibility of helping such a programme in Afghanistan. I would be able to help and support as a scientist and in planning, implementation, and training of such a programme. Please let me know how I can help.

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Reply this comment

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