Newsbrief: Afghan Opium Boom Continues, Second Crop Coming 8/23/02

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Not to belabor a point, but the effort to eradicate the Afghan opium trade is a mess. As is reported in this newsletter nearly every week, yet another indicator of how fruitless the task is came Sunday, when the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) reported that the Karzai government's eradication effort has "largely failed." According to FAO, this year's crop is near the level of the late 1990s and could bring more than $1 billion in farm gate revenues. Afghanistan's estimated Gross National Product was $21 billion in 1999, the last year for which statistics are available, and has almost certainly declined since then.

Although the Karzai government implemented an eradication program with British and US funds in April and swore as recently as last week to "fight like hell" to end the traffic, the UN sees even more opium coming next year. "The returns and opportunities are high and the risks are seen to be low given the large numbers of farmers involved and the perceived improbability of prosecutions," FAO concluded.

While according to the UN, as much as 25% of this spring's harvest may have been eradicated, the promised compensation has either not arrived, been diverted into the hands of local warlords or been insufficient. The program in Nangahar province, a prime growing area, also suffered after Abdul Qadir, who had visited villages to promise payment, was assassinated in Kabul last month. According to the Washington Post, villagers who had reluctantly allowed their crops to be uprooted after hearing promises of payment are now angry and desperate enough to begin replanting.

"We are not in love with the poppy. We grow it because we have to," one farmer told the Post. "The government destroyed our land and then paid us nothing. Our lands have all dried up. Even the trees have died. If we don't get our due soon, we are ready to start growing again."

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Issue #251, 8/23/02 Ding, Dong, the Witch is Dead: Bob Barr Defeated in Georgia Primary | Canadian Government Backs Away from Medical Marijuana, But Advocates See No Big Defeat | NJ Weedman Jailed for Exercising Free Speech Rights -- Advocating Marijuana Legalization Violates Parole Conditions, Says State | Seattle Hempfest Draws 150,000 for Smoking, Shopping and Rabble Rousing | Newsbrief: State Dept. Official Forced to Eat Crow on FARC-Al Qaeda Link | Newsbrief: Nevada Marijuana Initiative Campaign Gains Ally | Newsbrief: French Government Moving Against Raves | Newsbrief: Baltimore's "Federal Day" is No Holiday for Some | Newsbrief: Afghan Opium Boom Continues, Second Crop Coming | Newsbrief: SAMHSA DAWN Study Out, Drug Czar Quick to Spin | Newsbrief: DEA Wants to Schedule 2C-T-7 | Newsbrief: Can We Make That a Line Item? Alabama County Gets Blatant on Asset Forfeiture as Revenue Enhancer | Newsbrief: Wichita Judge Scolds Drug Squad for Misconduct | Media Scan: New Scientist, JAMA, Forbes, ReconsiDer, MTF, BJS, CASA | Legislative Alerts: Rave Bill, Medical Marijuana, Higher Education Act Drug Provision | The Reformer's Calendar

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