Afghan poppy industry eludes U.S. control
‘In a small district in southern Afghanistan, U.S.-backed Afghan drug forces opened fire on farmers who were blocking roads and throwing rocks to protest the destruction of their poppy fields earlier this year. Scores were injured in the firefight.
Undeterred by the violence, a group of angry farmers gathered around Masood Azizi, the Afghan official supervising the eradication. They maintained that cultivating poppy for opium is the only way they can survive. “We are hungry, thirsty, and we don’t have any money. We are in debt,” one said.
It’s a message that reverberates throughout this impoverished, war-torn country. [..]
Eradicating opium poppies has been a key pillar of U.S. policy in Afghanistan since 2004, said Doug Wankel, director of the U.S. Counter-Narcotics Task Force in Afghanistan.
Yet today, Afghanistan produces roughly 93 percent of the world’s illicit opium, according to the UNODC report, and the Taliban are making inroads in remote areas of the country thanks, in part, to proceeds from the drug trade.’