Income from Opium Sales Tripled in Afghanistan, says UNODC

In a new report, the UN Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC), has said that income from opium sales by Afghan farmers has more than tripled from “$425 million in 2021 to $1.4 billion in 2022”. The report has further found that the cultivation of opium poppies has increased by 32 percent over the previous year.

This sharp increase in the income and cultivation of opium poppies seems to be directly related to the April decree of the Taliban’s leader, which “largely exempted” this year’s opium harvest from being curtailed.

Opium prices increased following the decree of the Taliban’s leader, which banned its cultivation and trade across Afghanistan. “Income made by Afghan farmers from opium sales more than tripled, from $425 million in 2021 to $1.4 billion in 2022,” the UNODC says in its report published on Tuesday, November 01.

“Afghan farmers are trapped in the illicit opiate economy, while seizure events around Afghanistan suggest that opiate trafficking continues unabated,” UNODC Executive Director Ghada Waly said while promoting the new survey.

“The international community must work to address the acute needs of the Afghan people, and to step up responses to stop the criminal groups trafficking heroin and harming people in countries around the world,” she asserted.

The Taliban’s ban is supposed to yield results in decreasing the crop next year as this is when Afghan farmers decide whether it is profitable to cultivate opium for the following year.

The report is UNODC’s latest findings on the illicit opium trade since the Taliban returned to power on August 15, 2021. Affected by drought at the start of this year, the report has found that the opium yields declined from an average of 38.5 kilograms per hectare in 2021 to an estimated 26.7 this year.