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Afghanistan: Poppy Cultivation

Volume 685: debated on Monday 9 October 2006

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is their assessment of the likely increase or decrease in poppy cultivation across Afghanistan over the next year, broken down for each province.[HL7401]

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) conducts an annual survey into the level of opium poppy cultivation and production in Afghanistan. According to the executive summary of the report, which is now available on the UNODC's website (, overall cultivation of opium poppy in Afghanistan rose from 104,000 hectares in 2005 to 165,000 hectares in 2006. The report also provides a full breakdown of cultivation by province. This shows that the increase is due to a substantial increase in planting in Helmand and other southern provinces. This is worrying but reflects the very difficult security situation and limited law enforcement capability in the south. Elsewhere in areas where access to governance, security and development has improved, reductions achieved last year have been sustained and in some cases fallen. It is too early to speculate on cultivation levels for 2007. We will know more following the release of UNODC's rapid assessment survey in the spring. The noble Baroness may also wish to refer to separate UK-commissioned research into the drivers behind farmers’ planting decisions which I will make available in the Library of the House.