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Wednesday, 31 January, 2001, 15:09 GMT
Taleban outlaws poppy
Drug seizure, Pakistan
Prices shot up after the Taleban enforced a ban
By Kate Clark in Kabul

The Taleban have said opium poppy cultivation will never be allowed in Afghanistan again.

In the summer, they ordered a complete ban on poppy production.

Some analysts had speculated they might lift the ban once the supply of opium dropped and the price went up.

But the Taleban Information Minister, Qudratullah Jamal, has said the ban is for ever.

It has been estimated that three quarters of the world's production of opium comes from Afghanistan.

In Britain, as much as 85% of heroin is made from Afghan-grown opium.


Mr Jamal said the Taleban had not implemented the ban to gain recognition for their government or get co-operation or to please or upset anyone.

Most British heroin is made from Afghan opium
The poppy was banned, he said, in accordance with the order of their supreme leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar.

He said the ban was intended to reform and improve the Afghan-Muslim nation.

But many people have remained sceptical about the Taleban's sincerity, despite growing evidence that they are implementing the ban seriously.

There has been speculation that it might just be a means of driving the price of opium up.

It is already six times as expensive as it was a year ago, as dealers fear a shortage.

But Mr Jamal said his government stuck by its promises and the ban on poppy was there to stay.


United Nations drug enforcement officials have welcomed the statement.

Harvesting poppy in Afghanistan
Poppy farmers have been hurt by the ban
The regional head of the agency, Bernard Frahi, said they would make their own assessment of the ban early next month, when it became possible to see exactly what was growing in the fields.

Poppy farmers here have lost about four-fifths of their income because of the ban.

Mr Frahi said donors were ready to help them, once there is evidence on the ground that they had switched crops.

But he said there were still huge stockpiles of opium inside Afghanistan and along the transit route to Europe.

He said the ban on cultivation would only be felt in the world market once those stocks were exhausted in three to five years.

However, he said, the Taleban had a second option - to destroy opium from previous harvests that has built up inside Afghanistan.

If they did that, he said, there would be an immediate and dramatic impact on the world supply of heroin.

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See also:

22 Sep 00 | South Asia
Taleban poppy plea
09 Aug 00 | South Asia
Afghan poppy ban spurs prices
28 Jul 00 | South Asia
Taleban bans poppy farming
14 Jun 00 | South Asia
The Taleban's drug dividend
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