2010 Afghan opium production at 'lowest level' since 2003

Kabul, Oct 1(ANI): Opium production this year in Afghanistan is at its lowest level since 2003, according to a United Nations report.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime's (UNODC) 2010 Afghan Opium Survey reportedly found that production in 2010 was at its lowest level since 2003, estimated at 3,600 tonnes, a 48 percent decrease from 6,900 tonnes in 2009.

Opium production in the country was almost halved in 2009, the report said.

The BBC quoted the UNODC report as revealing that the large drop is reportedly a result of a plant infection, which has drastically reduced yields. However, it warned that after years of steady decline, opium prices are rising again and therefore, it is unlikely that the production would remain low. The rising prices could eventually tempt farmers to cultivate more opium poppies. This is good news but there is no room for false optimism; the market may again become lucrative for poppy-crop growers so we have to monitor the situation closely," Yury Fedotov, executive director of UNODC said.

The report found that after a steady five-year decline from 2005, prices were rising again, with opium's price up 164 percent from 64 dollars (40 pounds) per kg in 2009 to 169 dollars per kg this year.

Afghanistan produces 90 percent of the world's opium, the main ingredient in heroin. Most of the poppies are grown in the restive southern and western provinces, with production in Helmand alone accounting for more than half the country's total opium cultivation, the report said. (ANI)

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