Pakistan: Now or Never?
Perspectives on Pakistan
The rising cost of food that is stirring unrest in the developing world may have one positive spin-off: Afghanistan’s opium farmers, attracted by high wheat prices, may be turning to legal crops.
The Financial Times quotes a recent commander of British forces in Helmand, the heartland of the country’s drugs trade, as saying there is anectodal evidence of such a switch in the southern province. With wheat prices at record highs farmers are calculating they will make money planting the crop, says Brigadier Andrew MacKay.
But he adds, though, that this doesn’t mean that the tide has turned in the fight against the drug industry in Afghanistan, producing 93 percent of the world’s opium which is processed to make heroin and exported around the world.
Afghanistan’s opium crop is forecast to shrink by as much as half this year after 2007′s record harvest, but then this fall is not so much the result of international anti-narcotics efforts but mainly because of an unusally cold and dry winter that has disrupted germination of seeds.