Skip to main content

Afghanistan: Drugs

Volume 468: debated on Thursday 6 December 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what response the Government has made to the call by Antonio Maria Costa, Head of the United Nations Anti Narcotics Unit, for NATO forces to tackle heroin production in Afghanistan; what the UN’s policy is on paying poppy growers to (a) diversify and (b) cease poppy production; and if he will make a statement. (171392)

The UK is working closely with International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) allies to ensure a fully integrated approach to counter-narcotics that best supports the Afghan Government’s National Drugs Control Strategy. ISAF is providing increasing support to the Afghan counter-narcotics effort, which we are encouraging. In the past few months, ISAF has provided support to a number of Afghan law enforcement operations to disrupt drug trafficking and to the Afghan Government’s public information campaign to persuade farmers not to plant poppy.

The UN does not have a policy of paying poppy growers to diversify or to cease poppy production because they judge it would not work, in part due to the risk of encouraging farmers currently farming licit crops to start cultivating poppy. The Department for International Development and the World Bank have been conducting research into possible economic incentives to reduce opium production in Afghanistan. The final report will be released shortly; initial recommendations do not include subsidies or payments to farmers.