Afghanistan: opium booming

The US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has brought in trainers from Colombia to prepare a new Afghan anti-narcotics force. Opium cultivation has steadily grown in Afghanistan since the US invasion of 2001, leaping from 183,000 acres in 2002 to 408,000 last year. So far this year, about 20,000 acres have been destroyed, according to the United Nations. The crop is expected to yield more than 6,500 tons of opium, exceeding global demand. The export value—about $3.1 billion—is equivalent to about half of the legal Afghan economy. The Taliban, which banned opium cultivation when they were in power, are now said to be overseeing its cultivation to fund their insurgency. (NYT via Pakistan Tribune, May 16)

See our last post on Afghanistan and the opium wars.