According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the cultivation of opium poppies in Afghanistan plunged by 95 percent in 2023, under the rule of the Taliban.
This is a significant decline from the previous year, when the country produced over 6,000 metric tons of the drug.
The UNODC’s annual opium survey, released on November 5, 2023, found that opium poppy cultivation fell to just 243 hectares in 2023, down from 401,000 hectares in 2022.
The survey also found that opium production fell by 96 percent, from 6,800 metric tons in 2022 to just 280 metric tons in 2023.The UNODC attributed the decline in opium poppy cultivation to a number of factors, including a ban on opium poppy cultivation imposed by the Taliban in April 2022, as well as drought and economic hardship.
The ban on opium poppy cultivation was a key condition of the Taliban’s power-sharing agreement with the previous Afghan government.The UNODC’s findings are a positive development, as opium poppy cultivation is a major source of funding for the Taliban and other insurgent groups in Afghanistan.
The decline in opium production is also likely to have a positive impact on public health, as opium is the raw material for heroin.However, the UNODC warned that the decline in opium poppy cultivation and production is likely to have a negative impact on the livelihoods of Afghan farmers, who rely on opium poppy cultivation for income.
The UNODC called on the international community to provide support to Afghan farmers to help them find alternative livelihoods.Overall, the UNODC’s findings are a positive development, but they should be interpreted with caution.
The decline in opium poppy cultivation and production is likely to have both positive and negative consequences, and it is important to monitor the situation closely.