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Tuesday, 5 November, 2002, 16:52 GMT
Opium trade resumes in Afghanistan
Jenny Cuffe with opimum grower Abdul Latif Muskinyar
Opium growers say they have no choice financially
Farmers in Afghanistan are planting seeds for a new crop of opium poppies despite efforts by Britain to stop the trade. Jenny Cuffe reports from Afghanistan.

At the district council offices in Surkh Rud, an area in the south-west that owes its wealth to opium, a mullah is lecturing religious leaders and farmers about the evils of the heroin trade.

Drugs destroy your humanity, he says, and they are outlawed by the Koran.

But since the Taleban was ousted a year ago, the industry has flourished.

Abdul Latif Muskinyar and his neighbours are busy preparing the land for the next crop of poppy seeds.

Broken promise

"These seeds will be grow as soon as we have rain," he says.

"I know it's dangerous but I have to feed my family."

Mr Muskinyar is angry with the British Government.

His last crop was destroyed under the poppy eradication scheme launched by Tony Blair earlier this year to stem the flow of heroin into Europe.

Mr Muskinyar was offered 1,500 in compensation but has not received a penny.

"They gave us a slip of paper but we never got any money for it.

Gulam Sakhi, 83, with his grandchildren
Refugees are flooding back into Afghanistan
"Unfortunately I had to grow poppies again because they did not deliver what they promised."

Some 20m of British taxpayers' money was earmarked for even distribution among the farmers.

But the officials asked to make a survey of the crops to be destroyed are accused of fraudulently manipulating the figures.

The local warlords and their supporters, it seems, got the bulk of the money while others lost out.

Afghanistan's Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani, who helped the British set up the scheme, admits it was flawed.

"In terms of compensation, there were a lot of logisitical difficulties.


You pay some people to eradicate crops, then a wider group grows some because they'd like to be paid.

Clare Short
"The problems are at the door of the international officials."

On a visit to Afghanistan last week, UK Development Minister Clare Short praised Mr Ghani and his fellow ministers for their efforts to rebuild the country.

But she is not convinced Britain has found a sustainable solution to the opium production problem.

"In the short term it stopped the drug flow into Britain but you pay some people to eradicate crops, then a wider group grows some because they'd like to be paid.

"You can't go on doing it."

Listen to this edition of File On 4 at 2000 GMT on Tuesday 5 November.


Click here to visit the File on 4 website

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31 Oct 02 | Health
31 Oct 02 | South Asia
31 Oct 02 | South Asia
07 Jul 02 | Country profiles
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