AP

Taliban clamp down on drugs, announce ban on poppy harvest

Apr 3, 2022, 4:15 AM | Updated: 11:36 pm

Afghan farmers harvest poppy in Nad Ali district, Helmand province, Afghanistan, Friday, April 1, 2...

Afghan farmers harvest poppy in Nad Ali district, Helmand province, Afghanistan, Friday, April 1, 2022. Afghanistan's ruling Taliban have announced a ban on poppy production, even as farmers across many parts of the country began harvesting the bright red flower that produces the lucrative opium which is used to make heroin. (AP Photo/Abdul Khaliq)

(AP Photo/Abdul Khaliq)

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban on Sunday announced a ban on harvesting poppies, even as farmers in some parts of the country began extracting the opium from the plant that is needed for making heroin.

The Taliban warned farmers that their crops will be burned and that they can be jailed if they proceed with the harvest. The harvest and planting seasons vary across Afghanistan. In the Taliban heartland of southern Kandahar the harvesting has begun but in the east of the country some farmers are just beginning to plant their crop.

In desperately poor Afghanistan the ban seems certain to further impoverish its poorest citizens at a time when the country is in an economic free fall.

The decree was announced by Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid at a news conference in the capital of Kabul. The order also outlawed the manufacturing of narcotics and the transportation, trade, export and import of heroin, hashish and alcohol.

The ban is reminiscent of the previous Taliban rule in the late 1990s when the movement espousing a harsh interpretation of Islam outlawed poppy production. At that time, the ban was implemented countrywide within two years, and according to the U.N. largely helped eradicate poppy production.

However, after the ouster of the Taliban in 2001, farmers in many parts of the country returned to poppy production. Poppies are the main source of income for millions of small farmers and day laborers who can earn upwards of $300 a month harvesting them and extracting the opium.

Today, Afghanistan is the world’s largest producer of opium, despite billions of dollars spent by the international community during its 20 years in Afghanistan to eradicate the drug. In 2021, before the Taliban takeover, Afghanistan produced more than 6,000 tons of opium, which the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime said could potentially yield 320 tons of pure heroin.

Afghanistan produces more opium than all opium-producing countries combined and last year was the sixth straight year of record opium harvests.

During the years-long Taliban insurgency, the movement reportedly made millions of dollars taxing farmers and middle men to move their drugs outside Afghanistan. Senior officials of the U.S.-backed government also reportedly made millions on the flourishing drug trade.

Washington spent more than $8 billion trying to eradicate poppy production in Afghanistan during its nearly 20-year war, which ended with the Taliban takeover of the country in August.

Nearly 80% of heroin produced from Afghan opium reaches Europe through Central Asia and Pakistan.

According to a U.N. report in 2021, income from opiates in Afghanistan was between $1.8 billion and $2.7 billion, more than 7% of the country’s GDP. The same report said “illicit drug supply chains outside Afghanistan” make much more.

The Taliban’s ban comes as the country faces a humanitarian crisis that spurred the U.N. to ask for $4.4 billion last month as 95% of Afghans do not have enough to eat.

The ban, while hitting drug production houses hard, will likely devastate small farmers who rely on opium production to survive. It’s difficult to know how the Taliban will be able to create substitute crops and financing for farmers, at a time when international development money has stopped.

Afghanistan’s poorest often use the promise of the next year’s poppy harvest to buy staples such as flour, sugar, cooking oil and heating oil.

When the Taliban last ruled, they employed village elders and mosque clerics to enforce the ban. In villages that ignored the ban, the Taliban arrested the elders, clerics and offending farmers.

___

Gannon reported from Islamabad

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Near-total abortion ban in Arizona dates back to Civil War era...

Associated Press

Near-total abortion ban dates back to 1864, during the Civil War, before Arizona was a state

The near-total abortion ban resurrected last week by the Arizona Supreme Court dates to 1864, when settlers were encroaching on tribal lands.

30 minutes ago

Tracy Toulou...

Associated Press

How to tackle crime in Indian Country? Empower tribal justice, ex-Justice Department official says

A recently retired director of the Justice Dept. says the federal government hasn't given tribal justice systems equal recognition.

24 hours ago

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson...

Associated Press

House Speaker Mike Johnson says he will push for aid to Israel and Ukraine this week

House Speaker Mike Johnson said Sunday he will try to advance wartime aid for Israel this week, along with funding for Ukraine.

1 day ago

President Joe Biden speaks at a campaign rally Saturday, March 9, 2024, at Pullman Yards in Atlanta...

Associated Press

US shoots down ‘nearly all’ Iran-launched attack drones as Biden vows support for Israel’s defense

Joe Biden cut short a weekend stay at his beach house to meet with his national security team as Iran launched an attack against Israel.

2 days ago

Protesters in Phoenix shout as they join thousands marching around the Arizona state Capitol after ...

Associated Press

Abortion ruling supercharges Arizona to be an especially important swing state

A ruling this week instituting a near-total abortion ban supercharged Arizona's role, turning it into the most critical battleground.

3 days ago

Follow @ktar923...

Sponsored Content by Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines can get you smoothly from Phoenix to Frankfurt on new A330-900neo airplane

Adventure Awaits! And there's no better way to experience the vacation of your dreams than traveling with Condor Airlines.

Sponsored Articles

...

Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines can get you smoothly from Phoenix to Frankfurt on new A330-900neo airplane

Adventure Awaits! And there's no better way to experience the vacation of your dreams than traveling with Condor Airlines.

...

DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Desert Institute for Spine Care is the place for weekend warriors to fix their back pain

Spring has sprung and nothing is better than March in Arizona. The temperatures are perfect and with the beautiful weather, Arizona has become a hotbed for hikers, runners, golfers, pickleball players and all types of weekend warriors.

(KTAR News Graphic)...

Boys & Girls Clubs

KTAR launches online holiday auction benefitting Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley

KTAR is teaming up with The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley for a holiday auction benefitting thousands of Valley kids.

Taliban clamp down on drugs, announce ban on poppy harvest