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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 January, 2005, 17:46 GMT
Afghan call for anti-drug funds
By Paul Anderson
BBC News

Afghan poppy destruction
Afghanistan produces 87% of world opium, the UN says
The man heading Afghanistan's campaign against drugs production has called for more funds to support cash crop alternatives for the country's farmers.

Counter narcotics minister Habibullah Qaderi wants incentives to help wean farmers off poppy and onto other crops.

According to UN statistics, poppy cultivation now accounts for 60% of Afghanistan's economic activity.

Experts have warned that after emerging from nearly 25 years of war Afghanistan could become a "narcocriminal" state.

'Holy war'

Drugs, in particular the production of opium and heroin, is fast becoming the biggest priority for Afghanistan's leaders.

QUICK GUIDE

After he was sworn in late last year, President Karzai declared a holy war against drugs.

Habibullah Qaderi is the man who he has appointed to work out the tactics.

Mr Qaderi believes, in the short-term at least, that subsidies and incentives to persuade farmers off poppy and onto other cash crops, like wheat and cotton, are the answer.

Cash lure

Afghanistan accounts for almost 90% of the world's consumption of heroin and opium.

We want to give incentives so you can divert people from poppy cultivation to other crops like wheat or cotton
Habibullah Qaderi
Counter narcotics minister

It is a natural location for growing poppy, which needs little water and can survive in rough terrain.

And, with some poppy growers earning around $1,500 a month, compared to the $100 or so they would get cultivating conventional crops, it is easy to see why they turn to it.

The effort to wean them off is international, and now a much bigger priority for the Americans than it was before.

They and the British have pledged tens of millions of dollars to eradicate poppy cultivation.

On Wednesday, the British minister for international development, Hilary Benn, had talks with President Karzai, during which he, too, emphasised the need to stimulate cash crop alternatives.



FROM OTHER NEWS SITES:
Independent Karzai grills British officials over 'illegal' poppy crop spraying - 16 hrs ago
Afghan News Network Afghan concern at opium spraying - 18 hrs ago
thestar.com.my Afghan government condemns spraying of opium crops by mystery aircraft - 27 hrs ago
Taipei Times Online Afghan farmers say crops poisoned - 28 Nov 2004
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