Magazine article The Spectator

Poppy Appeal

Magazine article The Spectator

Poppy Appeal

Article excerpt

Sir: Fraser Nelson's article accurately outlines the urgent need to implement an alternative counter-narcotics policy in Afghanistan ('The precarious peace in Helmand', 28 May). Helmand province now cultivates half of Afghanistan's opium in a country which accounts for 93 per cent of the global illegal opium market. A significant element of the current approach to countering burgeoning opium production levels -- forced poppy crop eradication -- has proven disastrous. Instead of providing economic stability, heavy-handed policies analogous to the US-sponsored 'War on Drugs' approach in Colombia have undermined reconstruction efforts and failed to re-engage with local communities.

Consequently, farmers are being driven further into the Taleban's grasp and the country's humanitarian crisis continues to worsen.

Licensing the cultivation of poppy under a village-based 'poppy for medicine' development scheme, in order to produce essential medicines such as morphine, would eliminate dangerous links between the Taleban and local farmers. …

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