Fri, 29 Sep 2023

Kabul [Afghanistan], June 29 (ANI): Poppy cultivation is still being carried out in Afghanistan despite a ban implemented by the Taliban on the growth, production and distribution of illicit drugs.

Afghanistan's counter-narcotics department expressed concerns over the increasing number of drug-addicted people, the TOLOnews reported.

"The number of drug addicts reached nearly four million in Afghanistan. The Islamic Emirate treated 20,000 of them. This process is going on in the center and in the provinces," said Mawlawi Hassibullah, head of the Counter-Narcotics Deputy Ministry.

The opium-poppy farmers asked the Taliban to provide them support so that they can switch to other crops. "The government should support us or provide us with essential materials," a farmer said.

Notably, the drug addicts also requested the government to provide support for them.

"The Islamic Emirate may provide us with a shelter to continue living in it. I have suffered a lot. I am an Afghan and a woman," said a female drug addict.

Opium-poppy cultivation has been on a rise in Afghanistan's Kandahar and Helmand provinces for the 2022 harvest, a Special Inspector General for Afghanistan (SIGAR) April Quarterly Report stated.

The report further added that Opium was sold in open markets in these provinces and the farmers claimed of having no other economic alternative.

The Taliban officially banned the production of opium and other narcotics in Afghanistan on April 3.

Deputy Prime Minister Abdul Salam Hanafi said, "the supreme leader Haibatullah Akhundazda has issued a decree prohibiting the cultivation, trafficking, and use of any kind of narcotics in Afghanistan."The Islamic Emirate also mentioned a similar ban on the production of opium or other narcotics in 2021, but it did not get enforced.

3.5 million Afghans, or roughly 10% of the estimated Afghan population, are addicted to drugs, the report said citing Deputy Minister of the Interior Noor Jalal Jalali and Deputy Minister for Counternarcotics Abdul Haq Hamkar.

The ban was implemented among rising food prices and economic crisis in the country, and as a result, opium-poppy farmers had limited alternatives.

Earlier in the month of May, a US media report stated that Afghanistan's fastest-growing drug industry operates from desert outposts in plain view weeks after the Taliban announced the ban.

Afghanistan has been a global hub for opium production, estimated to supply 80 per cent of the world's opiate users. (ANI)

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