This year’s opium harvest in Afghanistan is up by eight per cent compared to 2020, to almost 7,000 tons, which could lead to global drug markets being ‘flooded with around 320 tons of pure heroin’, says UNODC.
Afghanistan accounted for 85 per cent of global opium production last year and now supplies eight out of ten of all opiate users worldwide, says The drug situation in Afghanistan 2021 – latest findings and emerging threats.
While this year’s income from Afghan opiates is estimated to be between US$1.8bn and 2.7bn inside the country, ‘much larger’ profits are being made through international supply chains. The uncertain political situation in Afghanistan since the withdrawal of US troops and the Taliban’s takeover earlier this year is driving up prices, which almost doubled between May and August. This is the fifth year in row to see production ‘at historic highs of more than 6,000 tons’ but higher prices could be a strong incentive for farmers to cultivate even more, leading to a far bigger harvest next year. Methamphetamine production is also ‘sharply’ increasing in the country, the report adds.
‘Afghanistan is in a state of constant crisis, with a precarious economy and wider instability enabling illicit markets’, says the document, with up to 97 per cent of the population now at risk of sinking below the poverty line. ‘The current contraction of licit economic opportunities makes households even more vulnerable to engaging in illicit activities such as opium and cannabis cultivation, and heroin and methamphetamine manufacture and trafficking.’
The report ‘highlights the urgent need for international assistance to promote sustainable reductions in illicit drug cultivation, production and demand , as part of overall UN support to the people of Afghanistan,’ said UNODC’s executive director Ghada Waly.
Report at www.unodc.org