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Volume 450: debated on Tuesday 24 October 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment she has made of the effectiveness of UK-led poppy eradication schemes in southern Afghanistan. (93197)

Eradication policy and implementation are the responsibility of the Afghan Government. The UK provides support to the planning, monitoring and targeting work of the Afghan eradication forces. The Afghan Government also instruct Governors on how to eradicate poppy in their provinces. 2006 saw an increase in eradication, which contributed to reductions in opium poppy cultivation in some provinces. According to the 2006 UN Office of Drugs and Crime Afghan Opium Survey summary, 15,300 hectares of poppy were eradicated across Afghanistan, including 7,830 hectares in the south. Eradication on its own will not solve the problem. It is a useful deterrent where there is access to legal livelihoods but needs to be balanced with measures to interdict drugs; bring criminals to justice; build institutions; and encourage development of rural communities to provide alternatives for poppy farmers. The UK is spending £270 million over a three-year period on supporting the Government of Afghanistan's National Drug Control Strategy.