Taliban's Poppy Ban: Can It Work?
Broadcasting UN Entity
In April 2022, Afghanistan's de-facto authorities banned all cultivation of opium poppy under strict new laws. Opium is the essential ingredient for manufacturing the street drug heroin, and the class of medical prescription opioids which millions rely on for pain medication worldwide.
While the 2022 harvest was largely exempted from the decree, the Taliban have strictly enforced the ban this year, aggressively eradicating poppy plantations and leaving farmers with limited economic opportunities. The United Nations Office on Drugs & Crime (UNODC) Alternative Development Programme works with communities in Afghanistan to encourage them to move away from illicit crop cultivation and move towards growing licit crops. Orchard establishment is one such endeavour that results in communities adopting a licit and sustainable livelihood option. Poultry production and management support is another significant avenue through which the programme contributes to women's economic empowerment in communities across Afghanistan. With reduced volumes of international aid, sanctions and restricted access to international payment systems, there are few drivers of sustained economic recovery in the legal sphere and a sustainable reduction of opiate production can only be achieved if accompanied by country-wide and long-term development support.