SIGAR: Millions of Afghans Rely on Poppy Cultivation to Survive

Citing the Department of State, the US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) has said that millions of Afghan laborers and farmers rely on proceeds from opium cultivation to survive.

The State Department has described this reliance as the “biggest challenge” for the Taliban’s narcotics ban, according to the SIGAR’s latest quarterly report.

“This reliance grew after the Taliban took over, the Afghan economy collapsed, and most international aid ceased,” SIGAR noted in a tweet posted on Wednesday, October 19.

The Taliban supreme leader, Haibatullah Akhundzadah, issued a decree on April 03, 2022, and banned the cultivation of all drugs, including opium poppy, across Afghanistan.

Reports suggest, however, that drug trafficking has increased in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.

In a report published on August 24, the Atlantic Council – an American think tank – said that drug trade is booming under the Taliban rule in Afghanistan.

“Meanwhile, the trafficking of drugs via major highways out of Afghanistan remains high. Along the Balkan Route from Pakistan, Iran, and Turkey to Europe, heroin and meth continue to flow in large quantities, supplying markets throughout and outside Afghanistan’s immediate region,” part of the report reads.

Drug trading was a key financing source that fueled the Taliban war against the previous government and the United States–led NATO forces over the past two decades in Afghanistan.