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House of Commons Hansard
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23 March 2010
Volume 508
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To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps his Department is taking to tackle poppy farming in Afghanistan. [323851]

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There have been dramatic falls in opium cultivation in Afghanistan in recent years—19 per cent. in 2008 and 22 per cent. in 2009. This year, despite a collapse in the price of wheat, the levels of opium cultivation is likely to be stable. Farmers have chosen not to go back to cultivating opium. They are responding to improvements in governance and security and to continuing concerns over food security.

The Government are supporting the Helmand Counter Narcotic Plan led by Governor Mangal. The plan aims to reduce poppy cultivation and demonstrate governance in Helmand. It launched in 2008 with the distribution of free wheat seed to 32,000 farmers across the province. This year, the plan has distributed wheat seed to 37,500 farmers, saplings and vines to 1,400 farmers, and will distribute summer crops (such as alfa, okra and mung beans) to 27,000 farmers.