Iran Ready to Help Afghans Substitute Poppy

Iran Ready to Help Afghans Substitute Poppy Iran Ready to Help Afghans Substitute Poppy

Given the high scale of poppy cultivation and opium that constitutes the livelihood of Afghanistan’s rural farmers (3.3 million Afghans are involved in producing opium), Iran is ready help them substitute poppy with other economically beneficial alternatives, said Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli, interior minister and secretary general of Iran’s Drug Control Headquarters.

He pointed to the production of 6400 tons of opium in Afghanistan annually and said “over the last decade significant efforts have been made to develop alternative crop cultivation in the neighboring country, but due to lack of international support, these attempts have been unsuccessful.”

In this regard, the support of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Tehran could be effective, he said, IRNA reported.

“At present international legal protection and the necessary technology and equipment are required to combat the drug menace and help reduce illegal drug production and trade,” he said.

 Lack of Equipment

Due to the unfair western sanctions on Iran’s nuclear program “we are unable to provide the latest drug-detector devices. While Iran has an important role in the fight against drugs, it doesn’t receive any support to acquire sophisticated equipment to combat the menace.”

“The fight against drugs is a humanitarian issue and Iran is willing to contribute in this regard; but more international support and cooperation should be provided,” the minister stressed.

Afghanistan, bordered by Iran to the west is the biggest illicit opium producer in the world. More land is now used for opium in Afghanistan than for coca cultivation in Latin America. In 2007, 92% of the non-pharmaceutical-grade opiates on the world market originated in Afghanistan. In addition to opiates, Afghanistan is also the largest producer of cannabis (mostly as hashish) in the world. The strife-torn nation over the past decades saw the collapse of the economy and the scarcity of other sources of revenue, forcing many Afghan farmers to go back to growing opium for their livelihoods.