Aid Afghan Farmers-Rethink Anti-Opium Fight

The World Bank and the Department of International Development of Great Britain, urged providing assistance to Afghanistan farmers is an important weapon in defeating insurgent elements. Afghanistan allegedly accounts for about 90% of the world’s illicit opium trade. Williwam Byrd, an adviser to the World Bank, commented: “Eradication of poppy fields looks superficially attractive,” but it is not a sustainable solution either economically or politically. Poor Afghan farmers need poppies to survive. Unless they have alternative sources of revenue, security against militants, and good government, they must continue relying on their only source of money. Opium production accounts for about 30% of Afghan’s illicit economy.

President Bush can announced wars against drugs and pledge to wipe out the Taliban, but for the ordinary farmer in Afghanistan the poppy field he has is the poppy field that produces money for his survival. A few months ago, some British sources urged buying up the entire poppy crop as a means to give farmers a stake in the present Afghanistan government and cut off sources of revenue for the Taliban. It still is the most realistic approach to dealing with the problem of opium.