Afghan solution: pomegranates for poppies

April 23, 2009

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has an idea for dealing with the heroin trade in Afghanistan: pomegranates. AFGHANISTAN

That could in effect shoot two birds with one stone, as the saying goes, merging her previous focus as first lady on healthcare with her new responsibiities as U.S. diplomacy chief.

Pomegranate juice is proven to lower cholesterol, Clinton told a congressional hearing. “Afghanistan used to be and still is one of the principle growers of pomegranates, and I think there’s a lot we can do here,” she said.

The United States has been trying for years to wean Afghan farmers away from the lucrative poppy trade, but has found it difficult to find a substitute income matcher.

Narcotics trafficking “is not the main source of funding for the Taliban and al Qaeda, but it is a source of funding. So we’re going to emphasize agriculture,” Clinton said.

AFGHANISTANBut there are complexities involved in trying to create an “alternative agricultural approach” in Afghanistan.

“It does pose a conflict because if you’re going to aerial spray poppies you can also kill fruit trees, so it’s complicated,” she said.

Anecdotal evidence based on eating out at restaurants in the Washington area finds that high-end Mexican restaurants and others are serving pomegranate margaritas, so there is a domestic market.

 Click here for more Reuters political coverage

Photo credit: Reuters photographer (Afghan man checks poppy crop), Reuters photographer (Afghan seller displays pomegranate)

6 comments

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What a wonderful idea! Pomegranates! That could work. Go Hillary! Something life-saving replaces a deadly toxin.

Posted by sprowlindak | Report as abusive

Actually, this is not a new Idea but kudos to Hillary for championing it.
Check out a similar program already at work in Afghanistan: http://www.pom354.com/

Posted by Amy Blount Lay | Report as abusive

Yeah, really, what a wonderful idea . . . if this means we’re now going to subsidize the pomegranate farming industry in Afghanistan to cover the loss on the new crop versus what they were making on poppies/opium . . . . not to mention, make the Taliban or other insurgents forcing people to grow poppies stop making people do that & grow pomegranates . . . Only will come at our greater expense & more soldier’s lives. Exactly what is our objective now in Afghanistan?

Posted by Galen | Report as abusive

Turkey grows the poppy and exports it legally to the pharmaceutical companies in the U.S.. I keep hearing about how our government wants to help build a thriving economy in Afghanistan. So why not afford them the same opportunity as the Turkish? One other positive result might be a reduction in the amount of heroin hitting U.S. streets.

Posted by Anubis | Report as abusive

Still gotta get them to market, folks, which means paving the roads of A’stan well enough for a viable mass transit system which will bring outside influences into the Taliban areas, something they’ll surely not want.

Posted by borisjimbo | Report as abusive

What a joke. Doesn’t surprise me that Billary is spearheading this one. LoL. U.S. Subsidized Afghan Pomegranate farmers. What a joke.

Posted by jason | Report as abusive

serving others…

Front Row Washington ” Blog Archive ” Afghan solution: pomegranates for … is an excellent post. But I feel it is missing on a few points….