Newsbrief: Afghan Anti-Opium Drive Causes Prices to Rise, Makes New Planting More Attractive, UN Head Annan Says 3/25/05

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The effort to eradicate opium production in Afghanistan, strongly backed by the United States and the United Nations, is threatened by its own success, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Tuesday. Addressing an international conference on Afghan opium meeting in Pakistan this week, Annan said that while last year's huge harvest drove prices down and discouraged farmers from planting this year, a tightening of the market because of eradication efforts this year has caused a near doubling of the farm-gate price for opium since October, from $100 a kilo then to $180 a kilo now.

Farmers could return to growing opium "if active intervention on law enforcement, coupled with effective alternative livelihoods assistance is not provided on an urgent basis," Annan warned according to Reuters coverage of the conference.

The opium trade is a mainstay of the Afghan economy, accounting for 60% of the country's gross domestic product. Roughly 10% of all Afghans -- some 350,000 families -- make a living directly from growing poppies, while hundreds of thousands more make a living indirectly from the trade, which, according to the UN, accounted for 87% of illicit opium grown worldwide last year.

Rapid eradication of the opium crop, said Annan, could have "dire consequences," given the extent of opium cultivation, its economic importance to the country, and the fact that many farmers have taken advances on their 2005 crops and would be left with huge debts if their crops were destroyed.

The US government has budgeted more than $700 million to do just that, with Britain kicking in $100 million and seeking another $300 million from other countries.

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Issue #380 -- 3/25/05

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Editorial: Rise or Fall | Reefer Reversal? British Government to Reconsider Cannabis Reclassification | Medical Marijuana Bills Fail in Illinois, New Mexico | Special to DRCNet: Steroids, Sluggers, and the War on Drugs | DRCNet Book Review: Sports, Sex, Eternal Youth: A Cultural History of Testosterone | DRCNet Letter to Judge Wexler on Upcoming Hurwitz Sentencing Hearing | Please Help Students Losing Financial Aid for College Because of Drug Convictions Get Their Aid Back -- Alerts Online for the House, Senate, and Arizona and Rhode Island Legislatures | This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories | Corrupt Cops Stories on the Air | Events and Conferences Coming Up for Drug Reformers -- Come Out and Be a Part of It | Newsbrief: DC Judge Cleared in Jail Death of Paralyzed Marijuana User | Newsbrief: Michigan Nightclub Rave Raid Nets 118, Many Charged Only with Frequenting a "Drug House" | Newsbrief: From Exile, Kubby Challenges Search Warrant in Case That Caused Him to Flee United States | Newsbrief: Britain's Top TV Cop Says Legalize Heroin | Newsbrief: Marijuana Crops Defended in Fiji Senate Hearing | Newsbrief: Afghan Anti-Opium Drive Causes Prices to Rise, Makes New Planting More Attractive, UN Head Annan Says | Newsbrief: At US Behest, Pakistan Clerics Vow Jihad Against Drugs | Media Scan: Becker-Posner Blog, Neal Peirce, URI on HEA, Tulia, Loretta Nall, Baker Institute on Needle Exchange, New Jersey Network on Medical Marijuana, Whosarat.com | This Week in History | The Reformer's Calendar

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