Up to 300 tonnes of heroin may be produced in Afghanistan this year

Shams Ansari, secretary general of Afghanistan's anti-drugs commission has stated that 200 to 300 tonnes of heroin may be illegally produced from Afghan opium in 2002.

According to him, such would be the output from 2,500-3,000 tonnes of raw opium which, to all appearances, Afghanistan would produce in the current year. An average 10-15 kg of raw opium is required to produce 1 kg of heroin.

Shams Ansari indicated that in 2002, in the course of a spring-summer campaign 25,000 hectares of opium poppy were destroyed in Afghanistan.

However, according to the UN representative office in Kabul, 45-60 thousand hectares were not destroyed. For the sake of comparison, in 1997 when Afghanistan produced 90 percent of world raw opium no more than 57,000 hectares in the country were sown with opium poppy. 41-46 kg of raw opium are gathered in Afghanistan from 1 hectare.

The United Kingdom has allocated funds to destroy poppy in Afghanistan. 750 dollars were paid to an owner for 1 hectare of a plantation. But this is a trifling compensation if one takes into account that 1 kg of opium costs an average USD 350 meaning that opium poppy from 1 hectare can yield USD 14,000 on average.

According to Ansari, the opium harvest time in Afghanistan is over. 13 narcotics trafficking routes lead from the country, 7 of them cover republics of the former Soviet Union. Among them are 4 routes through Tajikistan and 3 through Uzbekistan and Turkmenia. Tajikistan is traditionally the major trafficking route from Afghanistan.

Ansari also indicated that Afghanistan alone could not cope with the drugs traffic problem as it has become part of the international illegal business.

Ansari said his commission was preparing a protocol on cooperation and interaction with Tajikistan in the struggle against drugs traffic. Active consultations are on with Uzbekistan and Turkmenia. Ansari was also hopeful that Russia would join this cooperation process.

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