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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 October 2007, 16:03 GMT 17:03 UK
Burmese opium production soaring
By Bethany Bell
BBC News, Vienna

A Thai defence volunteer destroys opium poppies near the Thai-Burmese border
Thai efforts to eradicate opium production have been successful
There has been an alarming increase in opium production in Burma, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

The findings come from a new UNODC report on drug production in South East Asia's so-called Golden Triangle.

The report says opium cultivation in parts of the region has dropped dramatically over the past few years.

But Burmese opium production is on the rise because of corruption and weak border security.

The Golden Triangle, which includes regions of Burma, Laos and Thailand, was once notorious for its high production of opium.

But these days, according to the UNODC, it is no longer a major supplier of the drug because of a concerted eradication drive over recent years.

Around 5% of opium comes from South East Asia, most of which is of Burmese origin
In 2007 cultivation in Burma rose by 29% and production was up 46%
Burma is the world's second largest opium producer after Afghanistan

Afghanistan now produces more than 90% of the world's opium with only about 5% coming from South East Asia.

Most of that, the UNODC says, comes from Burma.

In 2007, the report says, cultivation in Burma rose by 29% and production was up 46% as a result of higher yields, making Burma the world's second-largest opium producer after Afghanistan.

The Executive Director of the UNODC, Antonio Maria Costa, said corruption, high-level collusion and inadequate border checks were contributing the drugs trade in Burma.

He called for greater international engagement to combat the trend.

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