News - Afghanistan
A poultry farm and cold room worth $10 million were opened in Kama and Behsood districts of Nangarhar province Wednesday as part of a program to help reduce opium poppy cultivation and encourage farmers to adopt alternative crops.
The ministry of counter narcotics, which has spearheaded the inter-ministerial project involving ministries of agriculture, finance and rural rehabilitation and development, said that these facilities are part of a programme to support rural and agriculture development in the fight against opium poppy.
"For reducing the cultivation of opium, we will implement programmes for rural and agricultural development worth $56 million in three provinces," said Zarrar Ahmad Moqbel, minister of counter narcotics.
Balk and Badakhshan will be the other two provinces, Moqbel added.
The Nangarhar governor welcomed the new projects and asked the ministry of agriculture to continue supporting the province's farmers to help fight poppy cultivation.
"The implementation of this programme could encourage people to abandon cultivating opium and get involved in other agricultural activities. We call the ministry of counter narcotics to support the farmers of Nangarhar province," said Gul Agha Shirzai, governor of Nangarhar.
Afghanistan has struggled in the fight against the cultivation of opium poppy. Despite the millions of dollars of aid from international community and efforts by the United States, Afghanistan is still the top producer of opium in the world. The UN Office on Drug and Crimes says Afghanistan produces more than 90 percent of the world's opium.
Opium cultivation is a source of livelihood for many farmers. Insurgents are also involved in the protection of farms and smuggling of opium. One of the insurgents' main sources of income is from opium. Efforts by the government to introduce alternative crops such as saffron have had limited success.