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[Farming poppies in Afghanistan]

Farming poppies in Afghanistan

After little George's war in Afghanistan to kill terrorist in general and bin-Ladin (not yet) in particular, the Afghan economy was left in disarray with the result that the level of growing poppies has returned to the pre-Taliban days.

The Taliban were bad for the people by western standards but they were also hell on the drug trade.  The Taliban are now gone but the poppy trade is back.  So what is the world to do?

It seems to me that if one divides $1 billion by the main countries where the opium is going and let each contribute their fair share to paying the Afghan farmers not to plant opium, each of those countries will experience more savings in social services (like the criminal justice system and the cost of health programs and other related drug expenses) than the cost of stopping the growing of poppies in Afghanistan.  Not to mention the cost of aid to Afghanistan which has shifted from growing food to growing poppies.

What is more, if that money was put into economic investment to create jobs in Afghanistan, then everyone benefits and there exists a long run solution to the problem.  

But this is just too simple.  It is better to let each nation affected by this problem try to go it alone and deal with the consequences of increased drug usage.  The more opium produced, the cheaper it becomes to the end user and the consumption goes up.  This is just basic economics.

The ridiculousness of the problem is in the fact that we are only talking about a billion dollars.

I am suggesting that before little George goes and devastates the economy of another country in his war on terrorism, maybe he should consider all the costs of such actions and maybe he should try to solve the underlying problems that manifest terrorism instead of just dealing with the terrorism that exists because of the ignorance and poverty in these countries.  The Taliban supported bin-Laden because of the money.  Surely we could out bid bin-Laden.  

What was the cost of that war anyway?

John WorldPeace
August 21, 2002

Afghan opium trade flourishes

U.N. experts say eradication efforts largely fail due to lucrative prices farmers receive

By Charles J. Hanley / Associated Press

KABUL, Afghanistan -- The Afghan government has "largely failed" in its 4-month-old effort to eradicate the opium poppy crop in Afghanistan, which in recent years became the world's biggest producer of the raw material for heroin, U.N. crop experts reported Sunday. 

Their figures show the 2002 crop, close to the high levels of the late 1990s, could be worth more than $1 billion at the farm level in Afghanistan. 

"That's a big chunk of GDP (gross domestic product)," said Hector Maletta, a spokesman for the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization. This impoverished nation's gross domestic product for 1999, the latest estimate available, was put at $21 billion. 

By the late 1990s, Afghanistan was supplying 70 percent of the world's opium. Then, in 2000, the Taliban government banned poppy cultivation, and U.N. and U.S. drug agencies determined that this led to an almost total -- 96 percent -- reduction in acreage devoted to the crop in th 2001 growing season. 

But the U.S.-led war that ousted the Taliban late last year prompted Afghan farmers to plant poppy again over tens of thousands of acres. 

In April, the interim government of President Hamid Karzai announced an eradication program. Farmers would be compensated with $500 per acre for destroyed poppy, the government said. That's only a fraction of the estimated $6,400 per acre of gross income a farmer can earn on poppy, according to the FAO report. 
The government efforts failed despite pressure from the United States, Western Europe and other countries that fear a sharp rise in the supply of heroin. Only relatively small patches of opium in several regions of Afghanistan were destroyed. 

How can we manifest peace on earth if we do not include everyone (all races, all nations, all religions, both sexes) in our vision of Peace?

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