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Asia drug boom fuels surge in opium cultivation: UN

Published on Oct 31, 2012 1:33 PM

BANGKOK (AFP) - Opium cultivation in South-east Asia has doubled over the last six years as growing demand for heroin in China and the rest of Asia lures more farmers to grow poppies, the UN said on Wednesday.

Opiate users in East Asia and the Pacific now account for about a quarter of the world total, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime said in a report.

China alone has more than a million registered heroin users, and consumes most of the drug in the region, it said.

With prices rising, cultivation in Laos soared 66 per cent to 6,800 hectares in 2012, and by 17 per cent to 51,000 ha in Myanmar, the world's second largest producer after Afghanistan, according to UN estimates.

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