“If the drug problem is not taken more seriously by aid, development and security actors, the virus of opium will further reduce the resistance of its host, already suffering from dangerously low immune levels due to fragmentation, conflict, patronage, corruption and impunity,” said Fedotov.

Though the opium industry is well known to help fuel the insurgency against US and NATO military forces, most opium farmers in Afghanistan continue to say that it is simply the only way they can make a living. Meanwhile, despite having spent billions on eradication efforts in the country, the U.S. military has allowed poppy cultivation to continue in order to appease farmers and government officials involved with the drug trade who might otherwise turn against the Afghan Karzai government in Kabul. Fueling both sides, in fact, the opium and heroin industry is both a product of the war and an essential source for continued conflict.

“Its high sale price continued to be the most important reason for cultivating opium poppy cited by farmers in 2013 (72%), as it was in 2012 (44%),” reads the report. “High income from little land, improving living conditions, and the provision of basic food and shelter for the family were other important reasons cited by farmers.”

Read the full report here (pdf).


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