17 December 2009

Export Value of Afghan Opium is Falling, Says UNODC

Further progress depends on controlling corruption, not just drugs

VIENNA, 17 December (UN Information Service) - The potential gross export value of Afghanistan's opiates is down 18 per cent, from US$3.4 billion in 2008 to US$2.8 billion in 2009 - equivalent to around a quarter of the country's GDP, down from a third last year. This is the main finding of the Afghanistan Opium Survey 2009, issued today by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The decline can be attributed to lower opium cultivation, lower production, lower prices, and relatively higher GDP.

The Survey confirms that market forces are moving against the Afghan drugs trade as lower revenues and excess production have put a damper on supply. As already reported in September in the Summary Findings of this Survey, in 2009 opium cultivation in Afghanistan decreased by 22 per cent, and production fell by 10 per cent (to 6,900 tons). The number of people involved in opium cultivation (1.6 million) has dropped by one third, and the number of poppy-free provinces is up from 18 to 20.

This complete Afghanistan Opium Survey 2009 goes into considerably more detail than the Summary Findings. It introduces new information, for example on heroin prices and counter-narcotics operations. Furthermore, it provides methodological evidence about how the information was derived.

"Military and market forces are reducing the impact of opium on Afghanistan's economy," said UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa. "Further progress depends on controlling corruption, not just drugs and insurgency. I urge President Karzai to make integrity as high a priority as security - you can't have one without the other," said Mr. Costa.

"Annual fluctuations of opium cultivation and production do not tell the whole story," said the head of UNODC. "I hope that the new Afghan National Drug Control Strategy, currently under preparation, will reassert that success will come when Afghanistan's farmers have sustainable licit livelihoods, when drug traffickers no longer operate with impunity, and when people no longer have to pay bribes for basic services. The alternative of a society wracked by drugs, insurgency, and corruption is untenable."

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For further information please contact:

Walter Kemp
Spokesman and Speechwriter, UNODC
Telephone: (+43-1) 26060-5629
Mobile: (+43-699) 1459-5629
Email: walter.kemp@unodc.org