17 October 2001


VIENNA, 17 October (UN Information Service) -- There has been significant reduction in opium production in Afghanistan this year according to the results of the United Nations Drug Control Programme (UNDCP) annual opium poppy survey released today.

The annual survey is a ground-based census which visits all villages which are known to have cultivated poppy in the past, or which have recently commenced poppy cultivation. UNDCP has been carrying out its yearly surveys since 1994.

The results indicate that a total of 185 metric tons of raw opium were produced in the current year, 94 per cent less than the output in 2000 of 3,276 tonnes and 96 per cent less than the bumper harvest of 4,581 tonnes reported by the 1999 survey. Preliminary data for 2001 suggests that the sharp reduction in production this year in Afghanistan has not been offset by increases in other areas or countries. The reductions are clearly the result of the implementation of the opium poppy ban.

The area under cultivation in 2001 was estimated to be 7,606 hectares. This represents a reduction of 91 per cent from last year’s estimate of 82,172 hectares. Helmand, which had 42,853 hectares, under poppy last year, recorded no poppy cultivation in the 2001 season. Nangarhar, the second highest cultivating province last year with 19,747 hectares is reported to have 218 hectares this year. While there has been a sharp reduction in most former major opium poppy growing areas, an increase in the area under cultivation has taken place mainly in two provinces: Badakhshan and Samangan. In Badakhshan, there has been an increase from 2,458 hectares last year to 6,342 hectares. In Samangan, there has been an increase from 54 hectares in 2000 to 614 hectares this year. Although the increase in Badakhshan is cause for concern, it needs to be seen in the perspective of a 91 per cent decrease in cultivation in the country.

This year, more villages were surveyed in Badakhshan to spot the possible displacement of poppy cultivation. The province of Samangan was surveyed for the first time in this survey, after information on poppy cultivation was received from World Food Programme (WFP).

In 2001, 10,030 villages in 160 districts in 23 provinces were surveyed, which makes the survey more comprehensive, covering 2,489 more villages than last year.

The four provinces with the largest cultivation of opium poppy in 2001 are: Badakhshan with 6,342 hectares or 83 per cent of the total opium poppy area, Samangan with 614 hectares or 8 per cent, Nangarhar with 218 hectares or 3 per cent, and Takhar with 211 hectares or 3 per cent of the total poppy area. In 2000, the four provinces with largest cultivation of opium poppy were: Helmand with 42,853 hectares or 52 per cent of the total poppy area, Nangarhar with 19,747 hectares or 24 per cent, Oruzgan with 4,331 hectares or 5.3 per cent and Qandahar with 3,427 hectares or 4.2 per cent of the total poppy area.

At the time of the survey, prices for fresh and dry opium showed great increases over the past year. The average farm-gate price for fresh opium at the time of harvest as reported by the farmers in different provinces, is US$301/kilogram, a 10-fold increase from last year’s average price of US$30/kilo. The potential gross income from the sale of fresh opium by farmers is around US$56 million, which is approximately 38 per cent less than last year’s estimate of US$91 million.

The 2001 Opium Poppy Survey for Afghanistan is available at www.odccp.org.

For further information please contact Mr. Sandeep Chawla in Vienna on + 43 1 260 60 4196 or Mr. Bernard Frahi in Islamabad on + 92 51227 2452.

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