Afghanistan still world’s top opium supplier, despite 10 years of US-led war
Opium production in Afghanistan rose by 61% this year compared with 2010, according to a UN report.
The increase has been attributed to rising opium prices that have driven farmers to expand cultivation of the illicit opium poppy by 7% in 2011.
Last year opium production halved largely due to a plant infection which drastically reduced yields.
Afghanistan produces 90% of the world’s opium – 5,800 tonnes this year – the main ingredient of heroin.
Analysts say that revenue from the drug has helped fund the Taliban insurgency.
Farmers who responded to the survey described economic hardship and lucrative prices as the main reasons for the increase.
Nearly 80% of the opium grown in Afghanistan is being produced in provinces in the south, including Helmand and Kandahar, which are among the most volatile in the country.