June 26 was the International Anti-Narcotics Day. According to latest reports, the poppy production has not reduced, rather there has been an ease in the opium production and smuggling. The fight against poppy has been a forgotten war. Last year the US Administration of President Obama announced a change in the fight against narcotics, from poppy eradication to ban on drug shipments and supplies. However, despite all these commitments to fight opium production, there is no change in Afghanistan.
Even today, the production of opium is financing the Taliban insurgency. The new policy of fight against drug with interception of chemicals and drug transportation while going after drug lords has not worked very well during the past year. Though it was a good approach, but a fierce fight against opium production has never been fought.
Drug production has increased since last couple of years while Taliban still gets heavy financing for insurgency through drug income. Millions of dollars were spent on eradication of drug from insurgency-hit provinces. But it did not result satisfactory. Poppy cultivation never stopped each year they were eradicated, the next year it was grown larger. There was not a comprehensive system. It was under the myth that most farmers grow poppy due to extreme poverty, while it is less likely. There are big fishes involved in drug business. Taliban get a major part of their funding from drug income. Drug lords are influential.
Despite the eight years of international efforts, Afghanistan still produces 90% of world opium. There should be alternative livelihood programs for farmers who grow poppy due to poverty. But the numbers of such farmers are less than those doing the business-of-death. A new strategy is needed to eradicate opium production, and it should not be continuation of the same old way of bribing the farmers.
The most effective way of eradicating poppy is aerial-spray of herbicides, which yet so far, has never been tried. On the other hand, the fight against the $4 billion opium industry of Afghanistan is being badly affected by the extreme corruption on administrative level. The Government has never been honest with the anti-narcotics fight, otherwise President Karzai would not have opposed the spray strategy some years ago.