PRESS RELEASE

Opium Production in Afghanistan Shows Increase, Prices set to Rise

Kabul/Vienna. 11 October 2011. Opium poppy-crop cultivation in Afghanistan reached 131,000 hectares in 2011, 7 per cent higher than in 2010, due to insecurity and high prices, said the summary findings of the 2011 Afghan Opium Survey released today (11 October) by the Ministry of Counter Narcotics (MCN) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

Afghanistan suffers from one of the highest rates of opiate consumption in the world with a current prevalence rate of 2.65 per cent. In 2005, the prevalence rate of opiate use was 1.4 per cent. The country also faces an HIV epidemic among the country's injecting drug users.

"I commend the work of the Ministry of Counter Narcotics (MCN) and the Counter Narcotics Police of Afghanistan (CNPA). Both institutions have worked hard to improve their overall performances," said UNODC Executive Director, Yury Fedotov. "I would like to encourage CNPA to increase its seizure rates and MCN to continue with its awareness and eradication programmes. The total amount of hectares eradicated increased by 65 per cent in 2011. However, the area eradicated represents only 3 per cent of the total cultivation area,"  he added.

Nevertheless, while there has been progress in some counter-narcotics areas, the medium-term indicators for opium production are not positive. According to the Survey, cultivation in 2011 has reached 131,000 hectares compared to 123,000 hectares of the previous two years. The amount of opium produced has risen from 3,600 metric tons in 2010 to 5,800 metric tons in 2011.

Based on the 7 per cent upturn in cultivation indicated in the Survey, production levels may be heading in the direction of previous highs seen before 2010. The 2010 Survey pointed to a drastic decline over previous high production levels due to the opium plant disease that laid waste to poppy production.

To combat drug production and trafficking, UNODC has cooperated with partners, to create interlocking initiatives linking the local to the regional and global. The Paris Pact Initiative creates an international forum for the discussion on drug trafficking and cross-border cooperation. The overall strategy also includes other successful forms of cooperation such as the Triangular Initiative between Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran; the control of precursor chemicals under the Operation Tarcet flag; and the creation of the intelligence body CARICC embracing the five Central Asian countries, Russia and Azerbaijan.

With high prices and increased production, opium is a profitable business in Afghanistan in 2011. The farm-gate value of opium production alone is US$1.4 billion or 9 per cent of the country's GDP. If the profits of manufacturing and trafficking heroin are added to this figure, opium is a significant part of the Afghan economy and provides considerable funding to the insurgency and fuels corruption.

"The Afghan Opium Survey 2011 sends a strong message that we cannot afford to be lethargic in the face of this problem. A strong commitment from both national and international partners is needed," said Mr. Fedotov.

For further information in Kabul please contact:

Jelena Bjelica, External Relations: UNODC
M: (+93 796) 520 857 | E: jelena.bjelica[at]unodc.org

For further information or for interviews in Vienna please contact:

Preeta Bannerjee, Public Information Officer: UNODC

T: (+43-1) 26060-5764 | M: (+43-699) 1459-5764 | E: preeta.bannerjee[at]unodc.org

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Statement on behalf of Mr. Yury Fedotov, UNODC Executive Director, as delivered by Jean-Luc Lemahieu, Representative, Afghanistan Country Office, on the release of the Summary Findings of the Afghan Opium Survey 2011

Kabul, 11 October 2011

"Every year, Afghan opium claims tens of thousands of lives worldwide, spreading pain and misery to thousands more.

Afghanistan also suffers from one of the highest rates of opiate consumption in the world with a current prevalence rate of 2.65 per cent. In 2005, the prevalence rate of opiate use was 1.4 per cent. The country also faces an HIV epidemic concentrated among the country's injecting drug users.

In the face of these rising social problems, it is clear the government of Afghanistan, for the sake of its own people, has a clear incentive to do everything possible to halt the production of opiates. And, the international community can and must do more to assist the Afghanistan government in their fight against illicit drugs, and HIV and Aids.

I commend the work of the Ministry of Counter Narcotics (MCN) and the Counter Narcotics Police of Afghanistan (CNPA). Both institutions have worked hard to improve their overall performances.

I would like to encourage CNPA to increase its seizure rates and MCN to continue with its awareness and eradication programmes. The total amount of hectares eradicated increased by 65 per cent in 2011. However, the area eradicated represents only 3 per cent of the total cultivation area

I acknowledge that the government's action, through its awareness programmes, has delivered some results. The reduction of opium cultivation within the Helmand Food Zone is an example where strong political support from the Governor, combined with focused aid, is delivering tangible reductions in opium production.

Nevertheless, while there has been progress in some counternarcotics areas, the medium term indicators for opium production are not positive.

According to the Survey, cultivation in 2011 has reached 131,000 hectares compared to 123,000 hectares of the previous two years. The amount of opium produced has risen from 3,600 metric tons in 2010 to 5,800 metric tons in 2011.

Based on the 7 per cent upturn in cultivation indicated in the Survey, production levels may be heading in the direction of previous highs seen before 2010. The 2010 Survey pointed to a drastic decline over previous high production levels due to the opium plant disease that laid waste to poppy production.

It is Afghanistan's wider region that has expressed the greatest concern about the opiate production as it confronts high addiction rates, cross-border criminality, corruption, funding of insurgent groups, and instability.

To combat drug production and trafficking, UNODC has cooperated closely with partners, particularly Member States, to create a series of interlocking initiatives linking the local to the regional and global, as a means of combating drug production and trafficking from Afghanistan.

The Paris Pact Initiative creates an international forum for the discussion on drug trafficking and cross-border cooperation. The overall strategy also includes other successful forms of cooperation such as the Triangular Initiative between Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran; the control of precursor chemicals under the Operation Tarcet flag; and the creation of the intelligence body CARICC embracing the five Central Asian countries, Russia and Azerbaijan.

To reinforce regional cooperation, UNODC is launching a Regional Programme for Afghanistan and Neighbouring countries. This initiative is not only a matter of international security, in which we all have a shared stake, but also one of sustainable development.

The Afghanistan government needs to generate a shared sense of commitment across all government departments. Without this crucial mainstreaming of the issue, the bolstering of the counternarcotics section of the police service and their integration into police capacity building program, the MCN and the CNPA risk being set up to fail. This must not be allowed to happen.

I also urge the international community to focus on the causal connections between drug trafficking and insecurity. The production and trafficking of narcotics inhibits security; promoting corruption, criminality, instability and insecurity within Afghanistan, the region and internationally. We are all being burned by the same flames.

The Kabul Conference process did not support counternarcotics as a National Priority. The result is a global issue touching almost every country and region, and yet funding remains problematic at the point of origin.

With high prices and increased production, opium is a profitable business in Afghanistan in 2011. The farm-gate value of opium production alone is US$1.4 billion or 9% of the country's GDP. If the profits of manufacturing and trafficking heroin are added to this figure, opium is a significant part of the Afghan economy and provides considerable funding to the insurgency and fuels corruption.

The Afghan Opium Survey 2011 sends a strong message that we cannot afford to be lethargic in the face of this problem. A strong commitment from both national and international partners is needed."

Thank you.

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