UK support is focused on building Afghan counter-narcotics law enforcement capacity, strengthening Afghan institutions, and providing alternative livelihoods for farmers. We are seeing progress. The number of narco barons being arrested and convicted, often by Afghan institutions mentored by UK experts, is increasing, This year, in Helmand, Governor Mangal has overseen the distribution of wheat seed to over 40,000 households in the ‘Food Zone' and is overseeing the distribution of seed for summer crops to 27,000 households.
There have been dramatic falls in opium cultivation in Afghanistan in recent years—19 per cent. in 2008 and a further 22 per cent. in 2009. Although we cannot be complacent, we believe farmers are at least in part responding to improvements in governance and security.
The UK remains committed to the fight against the Afghan drugs trade, as a key component of our Afghan counter-insurgency and state-building effort. The drugs trade creates and funds the corruption which undermines the legitimacy of the Afghan state and provides a critical source of revenue for the Taliban.