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Continued: Afghan poppy crops bring banner opium year

  • Article by: KATHY GANNON , Associated Press
  • Last update: November 13, 2013 - 8:33 PM

Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar successfully banned poppy planting in 2000 when the group ruled Afghanistan, according to the United Nations at the time. Poppy production went from more than 4,000 tons to barely a few pounds, the U.N. said.

When the Taliban was ousted in December 2001, farmers ripped up their wheat — which they said often rotted in the field because there were so few roads to get it to market — and planted poppies.

“Mullah Omar’s decree was a decree, but [Afghan President] Hamid Karzai’s decrees are nothing,” Bacha said. Now, he says there’s no danger of the government destroying poppy crops, so “the farmers are relaxed.”

Like last season, Bacha is planting his entire small plot of land with poppies. Last season, he earned around $1,200 — well above the country’s average income of around $800 a year.

His neighbor is also busily sowing his meager piece of land with poppies.

“Our children are planting poppies,” the neighbor said. “Even my wife and my mother are planting so we can finish by the end of the month.”

  • related content

  • In this Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2013 photo, handfuls of poppy seeds fly through Afghan poppy farmer Khan Bacha's hands as he sows his poppy fields in Cham Kalai village in Afghanistan's eastern Nangarhar province, a Taliban stronghold. Despite 12 years of trying to wean farmers of poppy growing, in 2013 they grew more poppies then ever before. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

  • In May, Afghan farmers collected raw opium as they worked amid a bumper crop of poppy plants east of Kabul, Afghanistan.

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