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UNODC and the Royal Project Foundation of Thailand sign partnership to address the opium economy in Shan State

Yangon (Myanmar), 16 December 2016
- The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Royal Project Foundation of Thailand (RPF) have signed an agreement to consolidate and strengthen technical cooperation in the area of alternative development for opium farmers in Shan State.

Troels Vester United Nations UN UNODC Myanmar drug policy

The cooperation with the RPF will contribute to the UNODC Country Programme, which supports the development of sustainable livelihood alternatives for opium growing communities in 60 villages in southern Shan State by introducing high-yield cash crops such as coffee, tea, avocado, and high value vegetables. The programme currently covers a total of 800 hectares and involves close to 1100 beneficiary farmers constituting 21% of households in the area. Plans call for programme coverage and the number of beneficiary farmers to grow year by year.

According to the UNODC 2015 Southeast Asia Opium Survey, the total area of opium poppy cultivation in Myanmar was 55,500 hectares with 90% of production concentrated in Shan State, and of that 50% in southern Shan State. The survey found that opium poppy is mainly cultivated for economic reasons to maintain livelihoods and cover family expenses.

"Opium poppy cultivation can only be successfully addressed by providing farmers alternative and sustainable sources of income that compete with the income from opium production" said Troels Vester, UNODC Country Manager. "The MoU we have signed with the Royal Project Foundation today is an important milestone in our support to farmers in Shan for production of high value crops, which together with other interventions will provide a sufficient income alternative to leave poppy cultivation, food insecurity, and ultimately poverty, behind."

In addition to the implementation of alternative development programmes in Shan State, UNODC promotes alternative development at a policy level as part of its assistance to the Government of Myanmar to develop a new national drug control policy, and as part of the Mekong MOU on Drug Control. Technical assistance and advice is offered on five inter-linked drug policy focus areas including alternative development.

Click here to learn more about the Myanmar Country Programme

Click here to learn more about sustainable alternative development

Click here to learn more about the Mekong MOU on Drug Control