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From owner-imap@chumbly.math.missouri.edu Thu Oct 25 06:05:25 2001
Date: Tue, 23 Oct 2001 16:58:20 -0500 (CDT)
From: NY-Transfer-News@tania.blythe-systems.com
Subject: Opium growing doubles in Northern Alliance zones
Organization: ?
Article: 129035
To: undisclosed-recipients:;

MyAfghan.com http://www.myafghan.com/news.asp?id=-63022950

Opium growing doubles in Northern Alliance zones

By Rory McCarthy, Guardian, [26 October 2001]

Opium cultivation in north-eastern Afghanistan in territory controlled by the opposition Northern Alliance doubled last year, according to the United Nations.

After the Taliban issued an edict banning farmers from growing poppies, drug barons pushed their business into Badakshan, the mountainous province under opposition control. Now more than 80 per cent of poppy fields in Afghanistan are in Badakshan, the UN drug control program said in a report.

The findings are likely to be a source of concern to Western governments, who expect the Northern Alliance to play a role in a future Kabul government.

Bernard Frahi, head of the drug program in Pakistan, said suppliers moved into Badakshan early in the year, frustrated by the Taliban ban on opium production.

In February and March, suppliers went and gave a high incentive to farmers in the form of cash advances and high prices for the forthcoming harvests, he said. The price of opium in Badakshan is now 10 times what it was a year before.

The annual survey showed the area under cultivation in Badakshan rose from 2458 hectares last year to 6342 hectares.

In contrast, the vast poppy fields under Taliban control in southern Afghanistan were virtually all replanted with wheat.

The total production of opium in Afghanistan slid dramatically from 3276 tonnes last year to 185 tonnes this year because of the impact of the Taliban edict. That was still worth $A110 million.

This was the one success story in Afghanistan, Mr Frahi said. It came after three years of dialogue with the Taliban.

Now the future of the ban appears to be in doubt. In Taliban-controlled areas the price of opium has tumbled from $1200 a kilogram in August to $176 last week.

Mr Frahi said the price had fallen because many expected the Taliban ban to lapse in the face of bombing. People feel the Taliban will not be able to impose the ban and therefore there will be a large supply, he said.