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In 2014, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime started a programme to help farmers in Myanmar's Shan state switch from growing opium to coffee, to curb the flourishing narcotics trade.

A Chinese company working with Myanmar farmers hopes that farming silkworms can help the farmers, and their country, quit opium production.
A Chinese company working with Myanmar farmers hopes that farming silkworms can help the farmers, and their country, quit opium production.PHOTO: REUTERS

HOPONG (SHAN STATE), MYANMAR - Mobile phone signals peter off in the homesteads of Hopong township, reached by gravel-lined roads chiselled into the steep Myanmar mountainside.

Opium used to be a cash crop here until the locals received international aid to grow coffee.

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