Taliban bans opium as Afghanistan's poppy harvest begins

Poppy Pickers In Afghanistan
Poppy Pickers In Afghanistan Copyright Abdul Khaliq/Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
Copyright Abdul Khaliq/Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
By Thomas Hill with AP
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Farmers say the ban will ruin them as many rely on opium revenues to pay their bills. The opium is sold to dealers who process it to produce heroin.


The Taliban has banned the harvesting and processing of poppies in a move that will have a significant impact on Afghanistan's economy.

A 2021 report by the United Nations estimated that annual opium production contributed 7% to Afghanistan's Gross Domestic Product.

The new law has been introduced as farmers and migrant workers in Helmand province prepare to harvest this year's crop.

Many say the ban will ruin them as they take out loans until they're paid for each crop.

"The money goes into the pocket of others (smugglers), we just get a quarter of the money made from cultivating poppies, and whatever money we make we use it to pay back for the money we borrow before the start of cultivation season," said farmer Sahaar Gul.

The UN report said 6,000 tonnes of opium paste was used to create 320 tonnes of pure heroin, which is supplied to international dealers. The ruling Taliban's edict will disrupt this trade, but will also encourage farmers to sow crops such as wheat instead of poppies.

The lack of income will leave many rural communities facing severe hardship at a time when Afghanistan is cut off from international aid.

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