Afghanistan may be deprived of economic aid?
It is an open secret that Afghanistan is the world's leading opium producer. Steady increase in narcotics production has been registered in the country within the past several years. It is reported Afghanistan gathers "the record crop". Afghanistan agronomists have obviously achieved great success in the field.
According to a research conducted by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, Afghanistan produced 3,600 tons of opium in 2003, which is the biggest amount since 1999. Thus, 75 per cent of illegal opium produced in the world fall at Afghanistan.
RIA Novosti reports that crop of opium poppy is to be even higher this year, which is explained with poverty of the population and high world prices for opium. According to the above-mentioned research, "farmers are in most cases the owners of land and they decide themselves what is to be grown there." In 2003, 25 per cent of Afghani farmers cultivated opium poppy. Opium plantations covered 27 per cent of the territory they cultivated, the plantations guaranteed over 60 per cent of farmers' annual income. The UN research states: "Illegal opium production will still flourish unless strict measures are taken to review the scale and ways of economic aid to the country, to liquidate opium fields and prohibit the opium traffic."
It should be mentioned here that in 2003 the government of Hamid Karzai several times requested to increase financial aid appropriated to Afghanistan. The appeals were first of all addressed to Washington. According to various estimates, the sum total of US's financial aid to Afghanistan reached $1.3 billion. 300 million euro more were appropriated by the European Union (the money was spent on humanitarian aid).
Just compare: one kilo of opium cost $40 in Afghanistan in 2002. As prices are constantly on the rise, thus profits yielded by growing and selling of opium poppy are much higher than the economic aid rendered to Afghanistan.
So, US's appeals for resolute measures will still remain just good desires. Even though everybody knows the problem is burning, it seems people care little about it.