According to FP: Afghanistan remains awash in opium, despite $8.2 billion in American taxpayer dollars spent since 2002 to curb its rampant drug production and trade, a U.S. reconstruction watchdog concluded.
FP writes that the country’s own drug use rates remain among the highest in the world, according to a new quarterly report by the congressionally mandated Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction, or SIGAR.
A 2014 World Drug Report by the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime confirmed Afghanistan again leads the world in opium production and for the third consecutive year saw more land being used for poppy farming — a record 520,000 acres — despite U.S. efforts.
Not only is Afghanistan yet again the world’s largest grower and producer of illegal opium. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime representative Jean-Luc Lemahieu says it also has more than one million drug users.
For most of the last twenty years, Afghanistan has been the world’s largest opium producer; in 2000, the country accounted for roughly 70 percent of the world’s heroin supply.
Then in 2001, the Taliban banned poppy, citing Islamic prohibition against drugs, and wiped out 99 percent of the country’s production of the crop.
The prohibition caused near economic ruin in rural areas. Some farmers tried to replace the poppy with wheat, which requires more water, and in the spring of 2001, many questioned whether the Taliban could enforce the ban for another year.
Afghanistan’s southern provinces, which have been disproportionately affected by the recent surge in violence, continued to drive overall production, with a 27% increase in yields.
Afghan opium continues to flood drug markets, including 90 percent of Canada’s supply and 85 percent of the worldwide market, according to the SIGAR report.
Yet hardly any Afghan heroin makes its way to the United States, despite the growing appetite for the drug. Overall, the U.N. found that Afghan heroin accounted for only 4 percent of drugs sold in the United States.