‘Poppy cultivation in Afghanistan most difficult international drug-control problem’: Obama

U.S. President Barack Obama on Monday designated 22 countries, including Afghanistan, as “major drug transit and illicit drug producing countries.”
 
“Illegal poppy cultivation in Afghanistan is among the most difficult international drug-control problems,” Obama said, adding that it has been the world’s largest poppy producer for 15 years.
 
The 22 countries designated as major drug producers or gateways for fiscal 2016 includes Afghanistan, Bahamas, Belize, Bolivia, Burma, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Jamaica, Laos, Mexico, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Panama, Peru and Venezuela.
 
President Obama said the United Nations will convene a special session in April next year focusing on combating drug production and trafficking globally.

President Obama said the United Nations will convene a special session in April next year focusing on combating drug production and trafficking globally

Despite billions of dollars spent in combating the growth of illicit narcotics in Afghanistan, the country continues to produce 90 percent of the world’s opium.
 
The increase in consumption, cultivation and smuggling of drugs is the biggest challenge facing the national unity government of Afghanistan, according to experts.
 
The southern and western provinces of country, bordering Pakistan and Iran, have reported the maximum cases of drug production.
 
The southern province of Helmand continues to be the leading producer of opium in the country. The province is considered the stronghold of Taliban insurgents for whom opium constitutes a major source of income.
 
More than one million out of a population of 35 million are addicted to drugs in Afghanistan, which makes it largest in the world.

The increase in consumption, cultivation and smuggling of drugs is the biggest challenge facing the national unity government of Afghanistan, according to experts

According to the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), almost 500,000 acres land is devoted to growing opium in Afghanistan, which is equivalent to 400,000 football fields.
 
At the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Russia in July, President Ashraf Ghani urged Russia, China and India to cooperate with Afghanistan in combating narcotics by evolving a regional consensus.
 
However, according to latest reports, the production of illicit drugs has increased in the second poppy season of the year.
 
Experts claim that the Afghan government’s counter-narcotics campaign has failed to curb the cultivation of poppy in southern provinces, especially Helmand.