Southeast Asia: Burmese Opium Production on the Rise

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) reported Wednesday that opium production is rising dramatically in Burma, now known officially as Myanmar. Poppy planting was up 29%the first half of this year, while opium production jumped by 46%, according to a UNODC report on opium cultivation in Southeast Asia.

Along with Laos and Thailand, Burma made up Southeast Asia's Golden Triangle of opium production, at one time a major source of opium on the global market. But Thailand has been almost opium free for 20 years, and Laos has reduced opium production by 94% in less than a decade.

While hailing the end of the Golden Triangle as a major opium producing area, UNODC head Antonio Maria Costa called the situation in Burma "extremely alarming." The increases this year, he noted, make Burma the world's number two opium supplier behind Afghanistan, which dominates the trade with more than 90% of global supply.

The report found that opium production in Burma is concentrated almost entirely in two areas of the country, the South and East Shan States. The Shan States are also producing methamphetamine, Costa noted.

Costa called for strengthening controls over precursor chemicals, more forceful anti-corruption measures, and alternative development schemes for farmers.

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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