Sunday, May 24, 2015Sunday, May 24, 2015

Afghanistan seeks help in drugs fight after opium crop hits record

Published on Jan 16, 2014 4:30 AM

VIENNA (REUTERS) - Afghanistan needs more financial assistance for its anti-narcotics fight after opium cultivation hit a record high last year, a government minister said on Wednesday, as international forces prepare to leave the country.

Afghanistan is the world's top cultivator of the poppy, from which opium and heroin are produced.

Despite more than a decade of efforts to wean farmers off the crop, fight corruption and cut links between drugs and the Taliban insurgency, poppy expanded to 209,000 hectares in 2013, up 36 per cent from the previous year.

"To convince the Afghan farmers to stop cultivating poppy we need to provide them with alternative livelihoods," Din Mohammad Mobariz Rashidi, minister of counter narcotics, said after talks with U.N. anti-drugs chief Yury Fedotov. "More financial resources are needed to combat this phenomenon more effectively," he told Reuters, estimating that US$7 billion (S$8.9 billion) had been spent on the issue in the past 12 years.

Enjoy 2 weeks of unlimited digital access to The Straits Times. Get your free access now!