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Bull market, bitter legacy for opium farmers

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  • Opium has become the Taliban’s cash cow, and the beast is fatter than ever. The Taliban offer farmers seed, fertilizer, advance payments, protection from groundbreaking to harvest, and farm gate collection.

Despite the outward display of extreme moral piety, the Taliban have always been involved with the opium trade, primarily through a 10 percent extortion tax — protection money. But the days of squeezing farmers for 10 percent are gone, eclipsed by the Taliban’s total immersion into opium. They offer seed, fertilizer, advance payments, protection from groundbreaking to harvest, and farm gate collection. The Taliban “… appear to be increasingly engrossed in both the upstream and downstream sides of the heroin and opium trade — encouraging farmers to plant poppies, lending them seed money, buying the crop of sticky opium paste in the field, refining it into exportable opium and heroin, and finally transporting it to Pakistan and Iran, often in old Toyotas to escape detection.”

The prospects are bleak for any diminishment in Afghanistan’s opium flow; the trade current is only getting swifter. Will it be cotton, wheat or poppy covering Afghanistan’s future fields? The answer is already in — just follow the money.

 

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Discuss this Blog Entry 1

Mary Orcutt (not verified)
on Aug 6, 2013

Thanks Chris. This is a tragedy all the way around--valuable resources being wasted on an unhealthy product in a hungry world.

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