Heroin harvest in Afghanistan soars

HEROIN production in Afghanistan has soared by up to 1400 per cent since the war on terror and the fall of the Taliban, a drugs conference will hear today.

The United Nations Drug Control Programme estimates the "total likely yield" of this year’s opium poppy crop will be between 1900 and 2700 metric tons, compared with 185 tons last year.

Afghanistan’s vast opium poppy harvest is said to account for 90 per cent of the highly-addictive drug sold on Britain’s streets.

The collapse of the Taliban triggered the massive rise because poppy growing was banned by the regime in July 2000, leading to a fall of 95 per cent in the size of last year’s crop.

DrugScope, the drugs charity which is staging the conference, said the new figure demonstrated opium cultivation was back to "a very significant level".

Chief executive of DrugScope, Roger Howard, said: "The expected large rise in Afghan opium production is a major concern.

"If we are to stop the return to full-scale opium production, the international community must fulfil its commitment to help rebuild Afghan society, giving communities and individuals another option.

"The conference will hear that international efforts at controlling production outside this holistic approach have consistently not delivered. Enforcement on its own is not the solution."

The charity said the rise would come as a blow to the UK government, which in April agreed to take a global lead in helping the Afghan authorities to develop anti-narcotics policies.

In April, the Foreign Office predicted the amount of heroin on Britain’s streets would be cut by a scheme offering Afghan farmers 800 for 2.4 acres of opium destroyed.

Delegates at the Paris conference will also hear that Afghan authorities have poorly trained staff, and inadequate equipment and facilities to deal with the problem, DrugScope said.

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