2 February 2009 - Two reports just issued by UNODC show that global opium poppy cultivation is falling. The South East Asia Opium Survey launched today in Bangkok shows that the region, once notorious as heroin's Golden Triangle, has a limited opium problem that is concentrated in just one region of Myanmar. South-East Asia accounts for 424 tons of opium (down from 472 tons a year earlier). This is around 5 per cent of the world's total illicit opium, down from 33 per cent in 1998 and more than 50 per cent in 1990. Thailand and Laos are almost opium free. Myanmar remains the world's second biggest source of opium, accounting for 28,500 hectares in 2008 (a 3 per cent rise over last year). Cultivation is mostly limited to the Shan State, which accounts for 89 per cent of the national total.
The Afghanistan Opium Winter Assessment, released in Kabul on 1 February, shows a likely reduction in the amount of opium grown in Afghanistan in 2009. The 18 provinces that were opium-free in 2008 are projected to remain so in 2009, and 7 others are likely to reduce cultivation - even in the biggest opium-producing province of Helmand. This will deepen the trend of the past few years that showed opium cultivation overwhelmingly concentrated in the seven most unstable provinces in the south and south-west. In 2008, Afghanistan accounted for 92 per cent of the world's opium.
In both South-East Asia and Afghanistan, UNODC has stressed the need for development assistance to enable farmers to eradicate poverty and not just poppies.
Full text of the South East Asia Opium Survey (pdf).
Full text of the Afghanistan Opium Winter Assessment (pdf).
Press release of the Afghanistan
Opium Winter Assessment
Press release of the South East Asia Opium Survey